Wallenda said he would traverse a remote section of crimson-hued canyon owned by the Navajo Nation in what will be his first major stunt since he last year became the only person to walk a wire over the brink of Niagara Falls.
“This is another one of my dreams coming true,” Wallenda, 34, told Reuters in a brief telephone interview. “This is one that has been on my bucket list for some time.”
Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of the “Flying Wallendas” acrobat family, said the tightrope walk across the famed gorge is higher than he has ever before attempted. The walk, scheduled for June 23, will also be about 1,500 feet (450 meters) long.
Wallenda had bristled at wearing a safety tether during his Niagara Falls crossing last June. But ABC, the television network that aired the event, said it would pull the plug on the broadcast if he unhooked the harness.
The tether was never needed as Wallenda took 25 minutes to complete the walk from the United States to Canada while some 200 feet above the falls.
Wallenda said not using a tether this time was non-negotiable in his talks with those bidding to air the Grand Canyon crossing. It will be televised live on the Discovery Channel.
“I always said it was my dream to walk across Niagara Falls and I felt that part of that dream was taken away because I had to wear a tether,” Wallenda said. “That wasn’t going to happen again if I had anything to do with it.”
He said the canyon crossing has been in the making since 2008, but he only recently received permission from the Navajo Nation.
“We’re really excited to be able to showcase our homelands on such a large scale,” Navajo spokesman Erny Zah said. “We’re hoping that people will enjoy the scenery on television and will want to come out and see the area in person.”
The plan calls for Wallenda to spend about three weeks preparing for the event at his Florida training base, including using wind machines to help simulate conditions.
Wallenda said he will use the walk to honor his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, who died in 1978 during a walk between two buildings in Puerto Rico.
Last year’s Niagara Falls adventure
Wallenda made a historic tightrope crossing over Niagara Falls on June 12 last year, stepping onto safe ground in Canada to wild cheers after completing his journey through wind and mist on a 2-inch (5-centimeter) cable.
Wallenda, a member of the famed “Flying Wallendas” family of aerialists, took a little more than 25 minutes to walk 1,800 feet from the US side in the dark of night over treacherous waters and rocks in a nationally televised event.
Arriving on the Canadian side, he hugged his family and greeted Canadian officials, who playfully requested the 33-year-old American’s passport. Asked the purpose of his visit, Wallenda told the officials he had come to “inspire people.”
More than 150 years ago, French aerialist Charles Blondin, known as “The Great Blondin,” famously walked a high wire strung farther down the Niagara gorge, but a trek over the brink of the falls had never before been attempted.
Wallenda appeared fully in control through the stunt, taking small, steady steps on a slick cable through swirling winds.