Photo: David Zalubowski (AP)
Last Friday, Alexandria Incontro from Omaha, Nebraska, very nearly free-soloed Mt. Rushmore, making it 15 feet from the top before she was persuaded to give up on her attempt by a park ranger. According to the Rapid City Journal, visitors reported seeing a woman scaling the wall around 7 p.m. on Friday night, and the authorities showed up shortly afterward.
A ranger asked Incontro to stop climbing and get off the mountain, to which she reportedly replied, “Do you want me to come down fast or slow?” She kept climbing upward, and made it almost to the very top of the little chimney between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson’s 60-foot faces before a ranger started talking to her and convinced her to take a break. After chatting for a few minutes, Incontro agreed to get off the mountain and hand herself over to authorities.
Incredibly, she wasn’t even wearing shoes, and did not use any climbing equipment on her way up. Incontro was reportedly visiting the park with her two small children and “over a dozen” family members. After returning to solid ground, she was treated for minors bumps and bruises, mostly accrued on the walk up to the faces, and she was sent to jail. Incontro was fined $1,030 for her climb, which is much better than the $30,000 Greenpeace had to fork over a decade ago.
The Washington Post asked Incontro’s lawyer for comment, and he said, “Ms. Incontro seemed like a nice person who was ‘having a day’ as it were.” That’s similar in spirit to what 19-year-old Michigander Zachary Schossau said when he got busted last year for hiking up to George Washington’s head, as he told a ranger, “I’m sorry, dude! I was just doing it for the fun.” There’s apparently a lot of good climbing in the greater Mt. Rushmore area, and while the Rushmore face is not graded, one assumes Incontro has come as close as anyone to making the first barefoot ascent (FBA).
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