Nik Wallenda confident ahead of Grand Canyon high wire act

Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:34am EDT
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By Tim Gaynor

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER, Arizona (Reuters) - Daredevil Nik Wallenda, confident but with his heart pounding, will take a step onto a high wire stretched taut over the yawning chasm of the Grand Canyon on Sunday in a death-defying crossing that will be broadcast live around the world.

"Sunday is go time, and that's when the adrenaline kicks in and ... before you know it, it's all over," Wallenda, smiling and looking relaxed in jeans and a T-shirt, told reporters at a news conference before the challenge.

The self-described "King of the High Wire," Wallenda plans to walk a 2-inch diameter steel cable rigged across a remote section of the crimson-hued Grand Canyon with nothing but the Little Colorado River more than a quarter mile below.

The 1,400-foot (426.7 meter) walk will be the highest tightrope attempt ever for the 34-year-old, at a height greater than the Empire State Building. The walk will be carried live on the Discovery Channel starting at 5 p.m. PT (midnight GMT), with a 10-second time delay.

After checking out the newly rigged wire on Friday, Wallenda said: "I'm ready ... I know that I'm mentally prepared, I know that I'm physically prepared, and now I can see that wire in place and visualize where I'm going to walk and how I'm going to walk and what I'm going to see."

A seventh-generation member of the "Flying Wallendas" family of acrobats, Wallenda made history last year by becoming the only person to walk a high wire over the brink of Niagara Falls. He will be using the same cable on Sunday.

He first dreamed of the challenge during a visit to the Grand Canyon with his parents as a teenager.

There was no immediate word on whether Wallenda will gain anything financially, but he is listed by the Discovery Channel as one of the executive producers of the live broadcast of his high-wire crossing. A Discovery Channel spokesman could not be reached for comment on that issue.   Continued...

High wire walker Nik Wallenda balances on a 1,200 foot (366 meter) cable during a practice session in Sarasota, Florida, June 14, 2013. WREUTERS/Steve Nesius