Most people have walked across a balance beam at least once in their lifetime and have probably felt the sense of accomplishment after, but none can be compared to what Nik Wallenda will feel in his attempt right now to walk across the gorge just east of the Grand Canyon without using a tether or a safety harness.
As a seventh generation tightrope walker, Wallenda said he has over-prepared for tonight’s feat. Even if there is an emergency, he said he has trained to hold on to the two inch (5 cm) wide rope until the rescue team and a standby helicopter get to him within 60 seconds.
“I’ve had a dream to be the first person in the world to walk a tight rope directly above the Grand Canyon,” Wallenda said in a video statement on his website.
Despite his claim that he will be crossing the Grand Canyon, Wallenda, 34, or Sarasota, Florida, will actually be walking across a gorge of Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, located just east of the canyon.
That doesn’t make the stunt any less risky or the visuals any less spectacular. Wallenda’s two inch (5 cm) cable spans 1,400 feet (426 m) across the gorge, 1,500 feet (457 m) above ground; that’s higher than the Empire State Building. Plus, the site is likely to be buffeted with winds up to 30 mph (48 kph).
Wallenda describes himself as a “born-again Christian,” and credits God for his success, saying that what he does on the high-wire is a gift from God. Before every wire walk, he joins his family in prayer and he always wears a cross as he performs, according to ABC News. He remarks, “The Bible says pray without ceasing and I’m always praying.” He also said he tries to live “an upright life” and be a good example.
The Discovery Channel will air the broadcast at 8pm EDT Sunday, June 23, live. Watch the live stream here on The Discovery Channel via Skywire.