We study the geometrically induced cohesion of ensembles of granular "u particles" that mechanically entangle through particle interpenetration. We vary the length-to-width ratio l/w of the u particles and form them into freestanding vertical columns. In a laboratory experiment, we monitor the response of the columns to sinusoidal vibration (with peak acceleration Γ). Column collapse occurs in a characteristic time τ which follows the relation τ∝exp(Γ/Δ). Δ resembles an activation energy and is maximal at intermediate l/w. A simulation reveals that optimal strength results from competition between packing and entanglement.