Nik Wallenda broke two world records on Sunday with back-to-back high-wire walks between Chicago skyscrapers without a net or harness, doing the second walk blindfolded. “I feel incredible,” Wallenda said at a news conference Sunday night after the walk, The Associated Press reported.
For the first walk on a steel wire, the 35-year-old Wallenda went more than two city blocks uphill, rising at a 19-degree angle, from the west tower of the Marina City towers to the Leo Burnett Building more than 50 stories above the Chicago River.
“That cable looked like it was going straight up,” he said, according to the AP.
It was the highest skyscraper walk in the history of the “Flying Wallenda” family of acrobats, and the first time Wallenda attempted a walk at such a steep angle.
The walk broke the world record for an incline high-wire walk, according to a representative from Guinness World Records interviewed on Discovery Channel which broadcast the event. For the second part of the walk, Wallenda walked blindfolded from Marina City’s west tower to the east tower, breaking the world record for the highest blindfolded high-wire walk.
Wallenda said in an interview on Discovery afterward that the wire was shaking when he walked blindfolded.
“You probably saw me shaking like a leaf, this wire was shaking underneath me and you know I just wanted to make to the other side I wasn’t gonna think twice, I was getting on the wire and I am going,” Wallenda said.
Wallenda walked on a compressed steel wire cable, 0.75 inches in diameter, coated with a polymer mixed with sand to improve traction. It was a smaller rope than what Wallenda has used before. Earlier walks have used rope that is two inches in diameter.
Wallenda has established a particular pattern with his wire rope. Wirerope Works Inc. of Williamsport, Pennsylvania once again made the rope, and O’Connell Electric was once again involved in rigging the course. Wallenda has also previously walked over the brink of Niagara Falls in 2012 and across the Little Colorado River Gorge in 2013.
The first skyscraper walk, which took Wallenda about 6.5 minutes, was 454 feet long (138 meters), rising to 671 feet (206 meters); the second was 94 feet long (29 meters), at a height of 543 feet (166 meters). He completed that walk in less than a minute.
A year before Wallenda’s birth, his great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell to his death at age 73 from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.
What’s next? Wallenda has said he next wants to re-create a 1,200-foot-long (365-meter) high-wire walk made famous by his great-grandfather. The stunt in Georgia included two headstands on the high wire.
“I’ve trained a bit to do a headstand on the wire, but I’ve never done it publicly because I’ve always said if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it on that walk with him,” Wallenda said, explaining that he wants to use vintage film of Karl Wallenda’s walk to create the illusion of the two of them sharing the high wire.