The crossing that shook the world
History was written on 15th June 2012 when Nik Wallenda became the first man in more than a century to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire. He crossed Niagara Falls on a 548m tightrope that was suspended 60m above raging waters and giant boulders which could kill a man instantly.
Niagara Falls is vast. It has two major sections, Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and the American Falls on the US side.The daredevil stunts affiliated with Niagara Falls began in 1829, when Sam Patch, who nicknamed himself "the Yankee Leapster", survived the jump from a high tower into Niagara Falls. This inspired a long tradition of daredevils trying to go over the falls.
And now, 33-year-old Wallenda's 'walk on the wild side’ has earned him a place in history. The Florida-born daredevil completed the walk in 25 minutes and 19 seconds, walking the 5cm wire in elkskin-soled shoes and using a balance beam.
What makes Wallenda’s death defying feat even more impressive is many in his family have been killed or maimed by such stunts. In 1978, Wallenda's grandfather and hero Karl, tumbled to his death in front of TV cameras. At age 73, Karl attempted to walk between two towers in Puerto Rico, on a wire stretched 37m above the pavement, but fell to his death when winds got too strong.
However, the Wallenda family said this happened due to "several misconnected guide ropes along the wire" and not the windy conditions. A film crew taped the fall.
Wallenda was thinking about his grandfather as he walked across the Falls. "That's what all this is about. Paying tribute to my ancestors and my hero, Karl Wallenda."
Wallenda's father Terry Troffer spoke to him through his headset throughout the walk. He said he was "proud" of his son's accomplishment. "Nik, I'm very proud of you,” he said. “You made history and made the family proud."
Wallenda said, "This is something that no one in the world has ever done. And I've completed it safely. Even though I had a tether, I didn't use it." Nik was forced to wear a tether by ABC, who broadcasted the event, which cost $US1.3mil (RM3.9mil) .
"I feel like a jack off, I mean jack ass," he says.
A crowd of 125,000 people on the Canadian side and 4000 on the American side watched his stunt.
Wallenda also set a Guinness world record on October 15, 2008 for the longest distance and greatest height ever traveled by bicycle on a high wire. He walked 150 feet out on a high wire from the roof of Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Building, suspended 20 stories over the street without a safety net. He returned on a bicycle for the Guinness World Record.
So, is Wallenda going to sit back on a comfy couch and retire?
No chance! He's going across a place that's roughly three times longer than the walk over Niagara Falls and it's a walk that no one has never been attempted. It's 446km long, up to 29km wide and attains a depth of 1,800 metres. Yup, the Grand Canyon is next.
And we bet, he'd rather not wear a tether either…
Published: 18th June 2012