High-Wire Artist Nik Wallenda to Tackle the Grand Canyon – Without a Harness

06/22/2013 at 06:45 PM EDT

Nik Wallenda Attempting to Cross Grand Canyon on a Wire with No Harness
Nik Wallenda crossing Niagara Falls in June 2012
Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty
No hands, no harness, no net.

High-wire artist Nik Wallenda is poised to pull off his most daring stunt yet, crossing the Grand Canyon on Sunday night in a feat to air live on the Discovery Channel at 8 p.m. ET.

The seventh generation high-wire artist, 34, will cross a 1,400-ft.-long stretch of the canyon on a 2-in. steel cable, suspended 1,500 ft. above the Colorado River. Unlike his walk across Niagara Falls last summer – during which ABC required him to wear a harness – this time Wallenda will cross with just a 40-lb. pole.

"Part of my Niagara dream was taken away because I had to wear a tether," he told PEOPLE while in the midst of extensive pre-stunt training in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla. "This one will be done the way I want to do it: just me and Mother Nature."



A married father of three – "I'm a family man that does what daredevils do," he says – Wallenda used an airboat to simulate the "updrafts, down drafts, a lot of gusts" that he might encounter during the walk.

"I think the reason people think I have a death wish is that people can't relate to what I do," he says. "What I do is extremely calculated. I know that the wire is exactly the right tension, and I trained on it. Also, there are backup plans. It’s not as if I go, 'If I die, I die.' I train to stay on that wire. It's all about success."

As with all of Wallenda's stunts, the legacy of his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, a famed acrobat who plunged off a wire to his death in 1978 (four other family members have died while performing), is his inspiration.

"I think of him on every walk I do," says Nik. "In order to carry on his legacy, I have to do it in a bigger and broader fashion."

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

George Turns 1: Raising a Little Prince!
  • George Turns 1: Raising a Little Prince!
  • Ryan and Eva: How They Hid Her Pregnancy
  • Jillian Michaels: Why I Left Biggest Loser

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners