NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — There was “wind coming from every which way,” mist so powerful it clouded his vision and an unfamiliar wire beneath him, but daredevil Nik Wallenda didn’t let that stop him from becoming the first person to walk on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls.
He took steady, measured steps Friday night for 1,800 feet on a wire across the widest part of the gorge of the roaring falls separating the U.S. and Canada, accomplishing what he said was his childhood dream — albeit wearing a tether.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine right now,” an exuberant Wallenda told reporters after his feat, which he performed before an estimated 112,000 people crowding the shores of both countries and millions more who watched a live television broadcast.
“I hope what I do and what I just did inspires people around the world to reach for the skies,” he said.
He described a breathtaking view during the nighttime walk illuminated by spotlights that “compared to nothing.”
“There was no way to focus on the movement of the cable,” said Wallenda, 33. “If I looked down at the cable there was water moving everywhere. And if I looked up there was heavy mist blowing in front of my face. So it was a very unique, a weird sensation.”
He said he accomplished the feat through “a lot of praying, that’s for sure. But, you know, it’s all about the concentration, the focus, and the training.”
The seventh-generation member of the famed Flying Wallendas had long dreamed of pulling off the stunt, never before attempted. Other daredevils have wire-walked over the Niagara River but farther downstream and not since 1896.