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Posted at 01:22 PM ET, 10/01/2011

Climber blown off face of Washington Monument

A jet passes in the distance as a climber with the National Park Service sets up rigging lines to evaluate earthquake damage to the Washington National Monument earlier this week. (Linda Davidson - THE WASHINGTON POST)
A climber inspecting the Washington Monument for earthquake damage was blown about 30 feet off the monument’s face by a gust of wind Friday evening, a project manager said.

The gust pushed Erik Sohn around the monument from the west wall to the south wall, as he dangled on a rope about 50 feet off the ground, said Daniel Lemieux, who is directing work for Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE).

Sohn was not hurt and Lemieux said he “even kind of enjoyed the ride.” Sohn declined comment on the incident.

“We had a gust that came out of nowhere and caught us off guard,” Lemieux said. “Sohn came in relatively gently as he swung back into the monument.”

Lemieux said the incident occurred around 6 p.m. after Sohn had finished up work for the day and was rappelling down the monument. He said climbers are trained to handle wind gusts and it’s a pretty common occurrence on these types of projects.

The National Weather Service reported winds were gusting up to 20 mph at Reagan National Airport around 7 p.m., but there were no reports of gusts at 6 p.m.

The National Park Service and WJE decided to call off inspections on Saturday because of bad weather. Work is scheduled to resume on Sunday, weather permitting.

The WJE team is assessing the exterior of the monument, which was damaged in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 23.

By  |  01:22 PM ET, 10/01/2011

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