Daredevil Walks Across Tightrope Near Grand Canyon Successfully (+Photos)

June 23, 2013 Updated: June 24, 2013

Nik Wallenda Grand Canyon: Wallenda crossed a ravine near the Grand Canyon successfully on June 23, walking about 1,400 feet above the ground without a tether.

His tightrope walk was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel and online.

There were six cameras keeping track of his progress, including one on his chest, and one from the bottom of the ravine.

“I’ve had a dream of being the first person in the world to walk a tightrope directly over the Grand Canyon,” he said in a video presented on the Discovery Channel website before the attempt. ”I understand why somebody would think I was crazy.”

“My life has been spent training for this,” he said in another video that promoted the live special.

Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon, though it is considered by some to be part of the canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him so that he could get “the rhythm out of the rope.”

Winds blowing across the gorge were expected to be around 30 mph. Wallenda told Discovery after the walk that the winds were at times “unpredictable” and that dust had accumulated on and around his contact lenses.

“It was way more windy and it took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time,” he said.

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Before the walk, a group of Navajos, Hopis and other Native Americans stood along a nearby highway with signs protesting the event.

The stunt was touted as a walk across the Grand Canyon, an area held sacred by many American Indian tribes. Some local residents believe Wallenda hasn’t accurately pinpointed the location and also said that the Navajo Nation shouldn’t be promoting the gambling of one man’s life for the benefit of tourism.

“Mr. Wallenda needs to buy a GPS or somebody give this guy a map,” said Milton Tso, president of the Cameron community on the Navajo Nation. “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.”

About 600 spectators watching on a large video screen on site cheered him on as he walked toward them. Chris Jacobs, the host for Discovery Channel, said that he was at the area where everyone was waiting for Wallenda to cross the other side. 

“It was absolutely thrilling.,” he said. “Everyone was silent watching Nik come across that wire. There were times when it got really, really dicey.” The wind was gusting strongly at some points of the walk. 

Wallenda previously crossed other high-profile places, such as the Niagara Falls. He is a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallenda’s family, he says on his website, which appeared to be down from heavy traffic Sunday night.

The original troupe was taken to be a part of the Ringling Brothers Circus, and the family expanded to from four to eight performers. Each successive generation has added to the dynasty, with Nik walking over the Niagara Falls in a Guiness World Record setting stunt last year and the ravine this year; while his sister and cousins tour under the name of Flying Wallendas or Fabulous Wallendas.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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