We can forgive Nik Wallenda for his Grand Canyon ambitions. It must be tough to top his incredible high-wire walk across Niagara Falls last June, a 457-metre-long stunt that attracted millions of eyeballs and an equal amount of “Wows!”
But when you hit a career milestone like that at age 33, can you never just sit back on the couch, crack open a can of soda, put up your feet and say: “Man, that was it. Time to spend the next six decades reliving it”? This may have worked for Al Bundy, but the seventh generation daredevil has already grown restless for his next adventure.
[ Related: Nik Wallenda tightrope walks across Niagara Falls ]
As he suggested during numerous press interviews last year, Wallenda wants to take on the grandest canyon of them all: Arizona’s 446 kilometer-long Natural Wonder of the World.
“It’s just another one in the bucket list. This is a dream of mine, as was Niagara Falls,” he said during a Today Show interview. “It’s just the next chapter in my book, if you will.”
He told NBC personalities Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie that he’s set a date to take a long walk on a tight rope - June 23. Wallenda will cross a 500-metre stretch of the canyon, this time with no safety harness like the one those ABC killjoys forced him to wear during the Niagara Falls broadcast.
Discovery Channel won the bidding war to air his stunt and they’re considerably less squeamish about the potential consequences of man versus nature.
“It was my dream to walk over Niagara Falls since I was about five or six years old, but part of that dream was taken away because I had to wear that harness… The exciting thing about this event is that I will not be wearing any tether or any safety whatsoever,” he said.
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To prepare for the feat, Wallenda told the news network he’s been training in a facility where he can mimic the Grand Canyon’s exact wind conditions. At 457 metres in the air, it’s the highest walk he’s ever attempted so all the extra prep he can muster is probably wise.
Another notable detail involves the exact spot across which he’s chosen to walk. The Toronto Star notes he’ll cross a “remote corner of the canyon over the Little Colorado River Gorge in territory owned by the Navajo Nation.”
This select bit of geography helps explain why the 34-year-old has been working on making the Canyon walk happen since 2008: He only recently received the go-ahead from the Navajo Nation, whose territory covers this area, to carry out his challenge.
Now that they’re on board, however, a Navajo Nation spokesperson said they’re pretty geared up about the whole thing.
“We're really excited to be able to showcase our homelands on such a large scale,” Erny Zah told Reuters (via the Star).
“We're hoping that people will enjoy the scenery on television and will want to come out and see the area in person.”
For those who can’t wait until June to watch the knuckle-biting live action, here’s a video of Wallenda’s Niagara Falls achievement from last summer.
Did you watch the action live? Will you tune in to see him do it again?