Wallenda talks about tightrope walk over Arizona gorge

Associated PressJune 24, 2013 

— Nik Wallenda studied the plunging walls of the Little Colorado River Gorge before stepping out on a quarter-mile tightrope cable. “Whoo! That’s an amazing view.”

With that observation, the well-known aerialist embarked Sunday afternoon on a walk without a safety net or harness, 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona.

The successful, 22-minute walk on the 2-inch-thick steel cable was monitored by people around the world Sunday night via television and computer screens during a broadcast of Wallenda’s most ambitious stunt yet.

They watched as the winds tested the Florida daredevil, and listened as he called on God to calm the swaying cable and as he paid homage to his famed great-grandfather. The stunt was the leading trending topic on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

“It was unbelievable,” he told reporters later. “It was everything I wanted it to be. It was extremely emotional. I got to the other end and started crying.”

Hundreds of people watched from the remote site on the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona that led them past roadside vendors selling traditional jewelry and about a dozen protesters who consider the area sacred.

During his walk above the dry river bed near the Grand Canyon, Wallenda paused and crouched twice as winds whipped around him and the rope swayed. Gusts had been expected to be around 30 mph. He said they sent dust flying into his eyes.

“It was strenuous the whole way across. It was a battle. The winds were strong, they were gusty,” he told reporters. “But there was never a point where I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to fall.’ ”

Wallenda stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps.

“Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God,” he said about 13 minutes into the walk.

The Discovery Channel broadcast the event live. He wore a microphone and two cameras, one that looked down on the river bed and one that faced straight ahead.

The 34-year-old Sarasota, Fla., resident is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous “Flying Wallendas” circus family – a clan known for death-defying feats.

His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73. Other family members have perished while performing stunts.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service