Nik Wallenda, the highwire acrobat who in June 2012 traversed Horseshoe Falls (the biggest waterfall of the Niagara Falls), has announced his plan to cross the Grand Canyon, presumably above one of the Arizona canyon's more dramatic drops. According to an ABC News in Sarasota, Wallenda has scheduled his next precarious journey for June 23, though the performer seems to have left a few important details to the imagination, such as where, exactly, the highwire act will take place. (The Grand Canyon comprises 1,900 square miles of terrain, so he'll have to choose the spot carefully.)
One detail, however, should cause some concern: Wallenda plans to walk across the canyon without a safety harness. Wallenda is a skilled and experienced high-wire walker, so we aren't too worried about his ability to actually pull off the stunt. That said, the question of whether Wallenda should wear a harness, or install a safety net to catch his fall, has come up before — in fact, his main sponsor, ABC, insisted he wear a harness during his Niagara Falls stunt in order to ensure that the broadcast network wouldn't wind up airing his grisly death. So why not use the same precaution at the Grand Canyon? A USA Today report suggests Wallenda's risky decisions could be genetic: "Wallenda's family — the Flying Wallendas acrobatic troupe — is famous for working without a net or its equivalent."
To get a sense of what that looks like, here's a video of Wallenda performing (sans harness) at a Sarasota hotel earlier this year:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.