High Wire Stuntman Wallenda Steps Across Gorge
Nik Wallenda making his historic walk across the Grand Canyon -- and into history.DCI
Facing strong winds and a terrifying view, Nik Wallenda, a daredevil from the famous "Flying Wallendas" family, stepped across a quarter-mile-long wire strung 1,500 feet above the Colorado River Gorge in Arizona with only his sense of balance to fend off a fall and certain death.
"Thank you Jesus. Help me relax, Lord. God you are so good. Thank you Lord. Praise you Father God," Wallenda said to keep his nerves calm during the treacherous walk.
Wallenda, 34, performed the stunt without the safety of a tether -- and made it to the other side in a tense 22 minutes, 54 seconds. Had he fallen, he almost certainly would have met the same fate of his great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, who fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73.
At one point, just after passing the half-way point of his wirewalk, Wallenda crouched down as winds whipped around him. "Please Jesus, calm them down," Wallenda said about the gusts.
"The winds are way worse than I expected," Wallenda said after resuming the walk.
The stunt follows Wallenda's tightrope walk across Niagra Falls last year, in which he wore a safety tether and which earned him his seventh Guinness World Record. This evening's walk will earn Wallenda his eighth record.
Wallenda performed the stunt walking on two-inch-wide steel wire strung 1,400 feet across the eastern part of the Grand Canyon within the Navajo Nation territory. The wire was strung 1,500 feet above the ground -- with a drop, at its deepest point, equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building.
Wallenda's balancing pole was 30 feet long and weighed 43 pounds. Had there been an emergency, Wallenda told NBC's "Today" last Friday that he was prepared to do what he could to hold on.
"If there's a problem, I will go down and hold on to that cable. I've got rescue teams on both sides, (and) there's helicopters standing by. They can be to me within 30 to 60 seconds," he said. "When it's your life, you can hold on for a long, long time."
As it turned out, Wallenda managed to keep his feet on the wire.
"Whew my arms are tired! Whew it's a long way down!" Wallenda said as he neared the finish. He then ran the last several steps, reached the other side, crouched to his knees and kissed the ground.