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article imageVideo: Nik Wallenda's 1,500ft tightrope walk near Grand Canyon

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jun 24, 2013 in Sports
Tightrope walker Nick Wallenda, completed a quarter-mile walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge without a safety harness in northeastern Arizona Sunday, giving a thumbs-up near the end of the rope and pausing before jogging the final few feet.
He performed the feat, broadcast live in 200 countries on Discovery Channel, with a 10-second delay, on a 2-inch-thick steel cable stretched about 1,500 feet high over a part of the Little Colorado River known as Hellhole Bend, on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. The event was watched by 1.5 million people.
Wallenda walked slowly, and prayed fiercely throughout the walk. He wore leather shoes with an elk-skin sole that helped him keep a firm grip on the steel cable. He wore a microphone and two cameras. One of the cameras, according to The Huffington Post, looked down on the Little Colorado River Bed, while the other looked straight ahead. His father's voice soothed him on the microphone as he walked.
The Daily Mail reports that a Navajo Nation ranger, a paramedic and a two-member film crew watched the death-defying performance from the canyon floor.
He was forced to pause and crouch on two occasions in winds he described to Discovery after the walk as "unpredictable." The winds swayed the rope and filled his contact lens with dust, he said. Organizers had expected winds to be around 30 mph. He told reporters: "It was way more windy, and it took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time."
When he crouched 13 minutes into the walk under high winds, he prayed: "Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God."
At other moments in the walk, he prayed, according to the Los Angeles Times:
These feel slippery, there's dust on the cable... Thank you Jesus, for this beautiful view. ... Praise you, Jesus. Oh, I love you. Thank you, Jesus. ... Lord, help this cable calm down... Yes, Jesus. Oh, you're my savior. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus... God, you're so good. Thank you for this opportunity, Lord.... Lord, help me to relax, Father... Help me to calm down, and relax. You are my king. Help me to relax, Lord... Yes, Lord. Relaxed. Oh, Lord, peace...
His father also spoke to him a point: "You're 16 minutes on the wire, doing great."
He answered: "You don't have to tell me how long I'm on the wire," and began praying: "Lord, you are my everything. Lord, you are my all in all. You are my peace, my strength, my wisdom, my guidance... Yeshua. Jesus. You're my rock. My salvation. Sorcerer. King. Everything. Lord, you are my everything ... Glory to your name. Glory, glory, glory... Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Discovery Channel, for believing in me. Thank you, Jesus."
Little Colorado River Gorge
Little Colorado River Gorge
After the walk, Wallenda told reporters he was planning a tightrope walk between the Empire State building and the Chrysler building in New York. However, he promised to give up tightrope walking if his wife and family insist.
According to The Huffington Post, a ranger Elmer Phillips, who said he got nervous when Wallenda stopped and crouched the first time, commented that he walked like anyone taking a stroll on a sidewalk. He said: "...a pretty amazing feat. I know I wouldn't even attempt something like that. Very nicely done."
His latest high-wire stunt comes a year after he earned a seventh Guinness world record crossing the Niagara Falls. According to the Daily Mail, the TV company that broadcast the Niagara walk forced him to wear a harness. But later, he said he disliked wearing it and said he would never again. He argued that harnesses give the tightrope walker a false sense of security and makes him more likely to lose concentration.
According to the Daily Mail, about 600 spectators watched the performance on a large video screen on site.
Wallenda, 34, lives in Sarasota, Florida. He is a seventh-generation member of the Wallenda family whose circus group the "Flying Wallendas" has been known across generations for daredevil stunts. He grew up as a member of the group and says he has dreamed since he was a teenager of crossing the Grand Canyon.
The Huffington Post reports that his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, died at the age of 73 during a performance in which he attempted a tightrope walk between ten-story towers of a hotel in 30 mph winds in Puerto Rico . Other members of the family, including a cousin and uncle, have met untimely deaths while performing high-wire stunts.
Although the walk was touted as across the Grand Canyon, Wallenda only walked across a part of the Little Colorado River Gorge and not the Grand Canyon proper. He was unable to get permission from the US government to walk across the Grand Canyon.
According to the Los Angeles Times, this caused some locals to accuse Wallenda and organizers, including Discovery Channel that promoted the event, of "false advertisement."
Milton Tso, president of the Cameron community on the Navajo Nation, told AP: "Mr. Wallenda needs to buy a GPS or somebody give this guy a map. He's not walking across the Grand Canyon. He's walking across the Little Colorado River Gorge on the Navajo Nation. It's misleading and false advertising."
A group of Navajos and Hopis also protested the event by standing with signs along a nearby highway.
However, Geri Hongeva, a spokeswoman for the tribe's Division of Natural resources, said the walk provided opportunity to showcase the Navajo area, its people and culture: "When people watch this, our main thing is we want the world to know who Navajo people are, our culture, traditions and language are still very much alive."
Some locals disagreed with Hongeva, saying the Nation should not use an event in which a man gambles with his life to promote tourism. Nevertheless, Discovery aired a two-hour broadcast that showcased major aspects of the Navajo landscape: Monument Valley, Four Corners and Window Rock, the Nation's capital.
Even though he crossed without a harness, organizers took elaborate safety precautions. According to the Daily Mail, provision was made for his rescue. If high winds prevented him from going on, a metal basket would be sent to him along the cable within 30 seconds.
He trained hard for months in his Florida home with walks over a lake in the area on the same type of cable he used on Sunday. The cable is usually used for undersea dredging, according to the Daily Mail. He completed the walk on an empty stomach to prevent the risk of hiccups.
He practiced under winds of 92mph blasted from wind machines.
The modest stuntman said after his act: "I do consider what I do an art. And I consider a daredevil more of somebody who says: 'I’m going to do something that’s never been done before but I haven’t trained for it.' I train and train and train and over-train for this."
He is married to Erendira, 32, a tightrope walker.
His wife and sons watched him perform the death-walk on Sunday.
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