US daredevil Wallenda crosses Grand Canyon on tightrope | News | DW | 24.06.2013
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US daredevil Wallenda crosses Grand Canyon on tightrope

A man from Florida has become the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope. High-wire artist Nik Wallenda completed the challenge without wearing a safety harness.

Wallenda took just under 23 minutes on Sunday to walk the 1,400 feet (426 meters) stretch of cable across the Little Colorado River Gorge.

The 34-year-old contended with high winds, having to crouch down on the wire twice. "It was way more windy and it took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time," he said. "Just out of the blue, there would be a 35-miles-an-hour gust," he said.

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Tightrope act above the Grand Canyon

Wearing no harness or tether, Wallenda stepped slowly and steady through most of the walk, some 1,500 feet above the river. He said prayers for almost the entire distance before jogging and hopping the last few steps and kissing the ground. "It took every bit of me to stay focused that entire time," Wallenda added.

The timing of the crossing was shorter than expected, despite the wind. Wallenda, who had been planning the Grand Canyon walk for four years, earned public recognition last year when he walked across the brink of the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

Wallenda held a 43-pound (20-kilogram) balancing pole as he crossed on a steel cable 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide. About 600 spectators watching on a large video screen near the scene cheered him on. Viewers in 217 countries were able to share his point of view live thanks to specially-mounted cameras.

Wallenda, the self-styled "King of the High Wire," is a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas family of acrobats. His great-grandfather Karl slipped and fell to his death from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.

rc/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa)

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