President Donald Trump is so proud of his big, beautiful wall, which he claims is unscalable. “This wall can’t be climbed. This is very very hard, and what the panel does at the top, as I said, it’s structural but it’s also very hard to get by that panel. Plus it’s designed to absorb heat, so it’s extremely hot. The wall is, you won’t be able to touch it, you can fry an egg on that wall,” Trump told reporters at a ceremony unveiling a newly built section of the wall in Otay Mesa, California earlier this week.
In fact, the president claimed, the government enlisted professional “world-class mountain climbers” to test different wall designs and evaluate which would be the toughest to scale. “We have, I guess you could say, world-class mountain climbers. We got climbers,” Trump said. “We had 20 mountain climbers. That’s all they do—they love to climb mountains… They’re very good, and some of them were champions. And we gave them different prototypes of walls, and this was the one that was hardest to climb.”
But actual professional climbers tell a different story. Not only do they doubt that any professionals, let alone twenty of the top mountain climbers in the game, would aid the Trump administration in a task like this, they also say the wall would not be difficult to scale.
The Daily Beast’s Scott Bixby spoke with numerous members of the climbing community, and they all denied involvement or even knowing of anyone who was or would be involved in helping the government keep immigrants from crossing the border.
“I have never heard of any climbers ever being recruited to try and climb a border wall,” said Jesse Grupper, who won gold at the 2019 USA Climbing Sport & Speed Open National Championships.
Another climber and second-ranked U.S. women’s boulderer, Kyra Condie, said, “I absolutely have not heard of anyone testing sections of border wall. It would even be hard to find any of us willing to do anything to help Trump and his efforts in any way.”
Some even questioned whether mountain climbers were the best people to conduct such a test. “It makes sense that they would want people to test it out, but ‘mountain climbers’ would not be the people to do it,” rock climber Ross Fulkerson, who ranks third in the nation, said. “Rock climbers would be far better suited for such a test given we constantly practice climbing up vertical and overhanging walls.”
And others scoffed at the idea that the wall was “impossible to climb.” Mitsu Iwasaki, executive director of mountaineering organization Mazamas, told The Daily Beast, “If it’s the slat wall behind him when he made the comment, it looks like it would be easy for a professional rock climber to get up and over.”
And other sections of the wall are still relatively easy to scale, as Mexican congressman Braulio Guerra showed in March of 2017.
“You can climb it with great ease, one climbs in an instant,” Guerra said in a video posted to Twitter from atop a stretch of the wall. “I climbed it in Tijuana, one of the highest parts, even from a distance this looks very complex, but there are young people that go up and down, at all times.”
— Braulio Guerra (@BraulioPRI) March 2, 2017
But even if the wall is impossible to climb freehand, ladders and climbing equipment exist. As do tunnels. If people want to cross the border, they will find a way. The wall is merely a tribute to Trump’s ego.