The Grand Canyon tightrope walk completed Sunday by daredevil Nik Wallenda was impressive, but it wasn’t exactly as advertised.
The 22-minute walk, 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River was a death-defying stunt played out before a live audience of millions of people watching at home. It just wasn’t the Grand Canyon.
Instead, Wallenda was traversing the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona, close to the Grand Canyon but not the same as the iconic American natural wonder.
Some local residents have spoken out, saying that Wallenda didn’t accurately pinpoint his location. And even if he tried, Wallenda wouldn’t have been able to walk across the Grand Canyon, officials at the park point out.
“The event would not have been approved in Grand Canyon National Park,” Maureen Oltrogge, the park’s public affairs officer, told Forbes.
The difficulty of the tightrope walk was the same whether at the Grand Canyon or Little Colorado River Gorge. High winds whipped at Nik Wallenda, forcing him twice to crouch down to wait out gusts and gain his composure.
“Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God,” he said about 13 minutes into the walk after wind gusts reached 30 miles per hour.
Wallenda could be heard praying throughout the stunt billed as a Grand Canyon tightrope walk, which was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel. There was even more tension than his last big stunt, a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls last year. This time Wallenda had no harness, and a history of tragedy for him to live down — several members of the “Flying Wallendas” family have already died performing wire walking stunts.
But, as the Grand Canyon National Park pointed out on Twitter, the stunt wasn’t where people thought it was.
— Grand Canyon NPS (@GrandCanyonNPS) June 24, 2013
Nik Wallenda said he’s ready to top what was billed as the Grand Canyon tightrope walk. He now wants to walk between the Empire State building and Chrysler building in New York.