Nik Wallenda tightrope walks across Niagara Falls

Jordan Chittley
Daily Brew
June 16, 2012

Daredevil Nik Wallenda has just done what no one else has ever done before.

The 32-year-old tightrope walker from Florida has walked about 500 metres across the Horseshoe Falls on a wire that is only six centimetres thick.

In front of a crowd of more than one hundred thousand and millions more on television, Wallenda was raised up to the wire with a power lift and then slowly put his elk-skin soled shoes made by his mother on the wire as he prepared to walk from one country to the next.

As he made it to the lip of the Falls he answered some questions saying the view is "breathtaking" and that he was enjoying himself on the wire.

[ Related: Why Wallenda's walk appeals to our attraction to thrills ]

He then hit the dip in the wire where water was visibly dripping from the wire and a misty wind was swirling around his head.

"What an amazing opportunity, what a blessing," he said just after passing the middle.

"That mist was thick...It was definitely quite a challenge," he said shortly before the end. "Fighting that wind wasn't easy and my hands are going numb."

As he got close the more than one hundred thousand people waiting on the Canadian side to greet him started cheering. Wallenda took his right hand off the pole and did a fist pump and then kneeled down.

As he took his final steps the smile on his face got bigger and bigger. He ran the last few steps and 26 minutes after stepping on the wire, stepped off.

In case you are wondering, he did bring his passport to get into the country and he showed it to customs officials. He said he was not bringing anything over and the purpose of his trip was to "Inspire people around the world."

The last time someone tightrope walked across the Falls was in 1896, but others who have crossed the Falls walked across a tamer part of the river. Wallenda is the first to walk directly over the Falls about 60 metres up.

For Wallenda, this walk was a dream come true. He has hoped to some day do it since his first visit at the age of six. His father told him many times to give up the dream, but Wallenda continue pursuing if for two years trying to convince governments in both countries to let him do it.

Wallenda, who said at a news conference before the walk that his kids are so used to Dad walking a wire they don't even look up from their Nintendos, comes from a long line of daredevils. The family can trace its roots to 1780 Austria-Hungary, when ancestors travelled as a band of acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, animal trainers and trapeze artists. Fourteen Wallenda family members currently perform in various troupes and many have completed walks all around the world. Family patriarch, Nik's great-grandfather Karl, fell to his death while attempting a walk between two hotel towers in Puerto Rico in 1978.

Nik first stepped on a wire at age two and has six Guinness records, including the longest distance and greatest height travelled on a wire by bicycle - 50 metres.

When asked what's next, Wallenda said he has the permit to be the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon.

(Reuters photo)