Nik Wallenda pumped his fist and let out a deep sigh of relief as he successfully completed his historic high wire walk across the brink of Niagara Falls on Friday night.
With steely nerves and a genetic predisposition for daring the devil, Wallenda walked into the history books one cautious but confident step at a time.
It wasn’t easy though.
Heavy mists and strong winds threatened to derail the nerve-wracking stunt, but Wallenda’s remarkable composure allowed him to finish strong.
“Those winds hit me from every direction and then my forearms tensed up,” he said.
“It was so hard to focus…it wasn’t pretty that’s for sure, and that wind was wild.”
The 33-year-old seventh-generation member of the famed Great Wallendas also took time to savour what was surely one of the most remarkable moments of his life.
“It’s an unbelievable view, I’m so blessed…this is truly breathtaking,” Wallenda said while being interviewed during the stunt.
“This is what dreams are made of people, pursue your dreams.”
His journey began on the American side and finished 1,800 feet later on Canadian soil, where he was greeted by relieved family members and deafening applause. It was expected to take around 40 minutes, but he completed it in 25.
Boldly sprinting the final few feet, a soaked Wallenda then fulfilled a promise – calling his grandmother on the phone to let her know he was safe.
The successful stunt not only fulfilled a lifelong dream, but secured his family’s long legacy of aerial acrobatics and death-defying stunts.
Death wasn’t a major concern on Friday night though, as Wallenda reluctantly agreed to perform the stunt while attached to a safety harness to appease nervous television executives.
The mandatory tethering didn’t detract from the buzz and media frenzy surrounding the stunt, as an estimated 120,000 people packed the streets to witness the spectacle.
Millions more were expected to tune in on television.
Wallenda prayed with family members before climbing onto the five-centimetre thick steel cable perched 60 metres above the violent waters.
Taking directions from his father via an ear piece, his first few minutes were steady and confident. But commentators wondered if he would run into trouble when he entered the heavy mists further along the walk.
His dad, fellow wire-walker Terry Troffer, could be heard telling him to “take his time.” He also asked him how the harness felt, and wondered whether insects were bothering him.
Despite the obstacles, Wallenda managed to maintain his poise and complete the historic stunt, becoming the first person to ever cross the brink of the falls on a high wire.
Tightrope acts over Niagara have been banned for more than a century, and those who attempted similar stunts in the past did so further down the Niagara River away from the raging waters.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine right now,” he said at a post-stunt news conference. “The impossible is not so impossible if you set your mind to it.”
While it may be hard to imagine him topping Friday’s stunt, he’s already planning his next conquest – a proposed high wire walk across the Grand Canyon.