The magic of the high wire has left the circus tent and the safety net behind, at least when it comes to Nik Wallenda, "The King of the Wire." The daredevil high-wire artist, acrobat, and six-time Guinness World Record holder will be traversing the Grand Canyon -- 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River -- and the entire spectacle will air live on the Discovery Channel.
In this exclusive promo for the upcoming TV event, titled "Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda," he shares some of the details of his awesome undertaking. "This walk, you know, [is] five football fields long. It doesn't make sense in your mind. I look at this, and that's 1,500 feet high, but there's no cars over there; there's no people; there's nothing to kind of relate to. So you can't grasp the magnitude of it," he says while sitting on the edge of the canyon.
Some reasons why Wallenda chose the Grand Canyon for this pursuit are the look of it, the height of it (he wanted a location at least 1,400 feet high), and its sheer walls. "I wanted to take five steps out into that wire, and, all of a sudden, it drops down 1,500 feet," he adds.
Such a daring tightrope walk requires some pretty specific engineering. There will be pendulums strung over his cable every 75 feet. Men on the ground will hold on to the pendulums to ensure that the wire doesn't twist right out from under him. "The pendulums are made with quick releases so they can drop out, down real quick, and they can get out there. Basically it's push of a button as they roll," Wallenda explains.
What if he falls? Don't worry, a guy like Wallenda has a plan. If the unthinkable happens, he'll grab one of the pendulum wires, and within 60 seconds the guys in the carts below will roll up beneath him, and he'll drop in. Of course, no plan is foolproof — not even a net. "I've known a lot of friends who have fallen into nets and bounced out. In fact, my great-grandfather's brother fell into a net and bounced out and was killed. Safety is not always something that you can rely on."
[Related: 'Man on Wire' Documentary]
Last year, Wallenda became the first person to walk a tightrope from the United States to Canada over Niagara Falls, at a height of 200 feet.
"Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda" airs live on Sunday, June 23, at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT on the Discovery Channel.
- Nik Wallenda