When you think of high-wire walkers the first person who tends to come to mind is Phillipe Petit: the man who walked between the towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974. Although, there is a new daredevil on the block who is taking on stunts that the average thrill seeker would be prettified of attempting.
This circus performer is Nik Wallenda, who at 34 years old can brag about holding 6 Guinness World records. The performer’s great-grandfather Karl Wallenda has been a great inspiration to him as he too was an acrobatic who tragically died during a stunt in Puerto Rico in 1978.
Nik’s most recent stunt saw him balance 60 meters above a busy motorway in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida, before embarked on a 152 meter foot walk without a tether or a safety net.
To celebrate Nik’s new achievement here is a look back at his top 3 thrilling stunts:
Number three on the list is when the genius recreated and completed the feat that his great-grandfather died from attempting: walking 30 meters between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For this stunt he was joined by his mum, Delilah, who started at the opposite end of the wire. When they reached the middle of the wire, roughly where Karl had fallen, Delilah sat down and Nik stepped over her. At one point Nik too sat down on the wire, but this time it was to blow a kiss in the memory of his deceased family member.
A live broadcast for NBC’s morning show, Today, saw Nik on October 15, 2008 primarily walk 76 meters from the Prudential Centre in Downtown Newark, New Jersey (41 meters about the ground) before biking it back. During the walk he called the Today show hosts and questioned: “Where are you?” as a joke referring to how he had been expecting to carry a host across the wire on his shoulder. Then he made the scary task of riding the way back on a bicycle which he completed and was awarded with the world record for both the highest and longest bike ride on a high-wire. He then went on to beat this record on August 30, 2010 at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas by riding 79 meters above the ocean.
Nik’s most acclaimed and phenomenal stunt took place on June 15, 2012 when he became the first person to walk across the Niagara Falls. Thousands of crowds turned up to watch this record in history, with 120,000 watching from the Canadian side and tens of thousands on the US side. The feat was also broadcasted internationally, with his first step taking place at 10:16 p.m local time. He walked the widest part of the falls, at 550 meters, wearing a safety harness for the first time in his life as this was a compromise between a two-year legal battle from both Canada and the US in giving their approval. What seems the most shocking is that he is talking (and talking calmly at that) whilst he is doing the walk!
Nik’s next ambition is to walk across the Grand Canyon.
Which Nik stunt is your favourite? What do you think he should attempt next?