Skip to main content

Wallenda walks fine line high, high above river gorge

By Miguel Marquez and Steve Almasy, CNN
June 24, 2013 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nik Wallenda walked across a wire 1,500 feet above a river in Arizona
  • He said the wind was worse than he expected
  • Without safety rigging, he made the quarter-mile journey with just a balancing pole
  • When asked how he planned to celebrate, he mentioned eating a nice steak

Cameron, Arizona (CNN) -- His high-wire walk didn't start well.

Perched on a 2-inch-thick metal cable, 1,500 feet in the air, daredevil Nik Wallenda spat on his hands and wiped the soles of his moccasins.

"These shoes feel slippery. There's dust on this cable," the lifelong tightrope walker said Sunday as he was just beginning his quarter-mile trek across the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon without the aid of a safety tether.

But an agonizing and an anxiety-filled 22 minutes and 54 seconds later, Wallenda had crossed to the other side, running the final steps to become the first person to traverse the gorge near Grand Canyon Park in Arizona.

Aerialist Nik Wallenda traversed this wire Sunday above downtown Chicago. Click through the gallery for other Wallenda stunts through the years. Aerialist Nik Wallenda traversed this wire Sunday above downtown Chicago. Click through the gallery for other Wallenda stunts through the years.
Nik Wallenda on the high wire
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
Photos: Nik Wallenda on the high wire Photos: Nik Wallenda on the high wire
Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year. Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year.
Wallenda family through the years
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
>
>>
Photos: Wallenda family through the years Photos: Wallenda family through the years
New challenge for high-wire walker

The wind was worse than he anticipated, he said at one point. And twice he stopped, knelt and regained his composure.

"I was fatigued until I was three-quarters of the way across, and then it was all adrenaline," he said.

The feat was watched by a worldwide audience, according to the Discovery Channel, which televised the event in the United States.

At the end, the seventh-generation aerialist threw down his balancing pole, kissed the ground and hugged his wife and three children.

"I can finally breathe again," Erendira Wallenda said.

When asked how he planned to celebrate his successful walk, Wallenda mentioned eating a rib-eye steak.

He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his grandfather Karl in the 1920s. But the family's circus roots go back further than that, Nik said.

"My family has done this for seven generations and 200 years, and I'm carrying on a legacy. This is something I've done since I was 2 years old, and it truly is my passion."

Daredevil completes walk across Niagara Falls

Wallenda skywalks over Florida highway

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT