Nik Wallenda is pushing the envelope yet again with his latest death-defying stunt – crossing over an active volcano on a tightrope. But how will the conditions and weather affect the volcano walk?
It’s a complicated question, since Wallenda won’t know exactly what type of weather he will be experiencing until it happens. But he does know for certain that the climate above the volcano isn’t exactly suited for walking on a tightrope.
Wallenda will cross the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua on “Volcano Live!” which airs on ABC Wednesday, March 4, 2020 at 8 p.m. The 1,800-foot walk marks the highest and longest walk he has ever attempted.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nik Wallenda Is Expecting Hot & Slippery Conditions During His Volcano Walk
It’s not so much the heat Wallenda is worried about – or the possibility of falling to his death in a volcano on live TV. He’s more concerned about the gas and the conditions they cause, even hundreds of feet above the lava, he said on “LIVE with Kelly and Ryan” February 28, 2020.
“The heat is about 150 degrees at times,” he said on the show.
The heat is a factor in how he will perform in his tightrope walk, but he said the volcano also emits poisonous gases, which he described as a bigger problem. The poisonous gases mean he will have less oxygen as he is completing his walk. He will be wearing a gas mask while he does his stunt.
Yet another problem is one he said he and his team discovered only recently.
“There is actually a chemical from the volcano that is going to be making the wire a bit slippery,” he told Kelly and Ryan.
Nik Wallenda’s Team Planned for ‘Gas Days’ Instead of Rain Days for ‘Volcano Live!’
Wallenda had to learn to cross a high-wire while, essentially, breathing out of a tube because of oxygen deprivation, he told Niagara Frontier Publications. At the same time, his wire will be submitted to sulfuric acid, which eats away at the tightrope.
I’ll have to wear a gasmask. So, an oxygen-deprivation mask is what I wear for training. It basically just trains me to be able to walk breathing from a straw, if you will. And that’s a big part of what I’m doing right now is, again, training for that, or with that, as well as training with a weight vest; training with, of course, the balancing pole that I’ll use. And then bringing a wind machine similar to what I did when I walked over Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon.
Again, just trying to do our best to recreate the elements that I’ll be facing. In the end, it’s unknown. I don’t know exactly what that wire is going to feel like; what the stability is going to be like; what the texture of the wire is going to be, because of all the sulfuric gases in the air, and how that metal is going to react to it over 10-12 days being set up. And the challenges that come with, of course, just the environment eating at the cable, which is what those sulfuric gases actually do.
So, there’s a lot of unknowns, and that’s where experience certainly comes into play. But it’s also very stressful, leading up to this to this walk on March 4.
Those sulfuric acids could have an effect on the rope over time. But, because of the gases, Wallenda’s team was forced to set up the rope weeks in advance, he explained to Niagara Frontier Publications.
“And to be honest with you, it doesn’t necessarily have to go up weeks in advance,” he said. “The reason why we’re having to set it up weeks in advance is because of the weather – how unpredictable it is for the rigging team, in order to make sure that that wire is set up and stabilized properly, with enough time; because there are times where the wave of the weather or the gases get so thick that the team won’t be able to rig, and they’ll have to leave the site. So, because of that, we have to plan for – rather than rain days, which you could call it that – we’re planning for gas days.”
Wallenda said he wanted to do a volcano walk in an interview at least five years ago. Since then, he has been researching, and that research has continued in the days leading up to his daredevil stunt.
“It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for quite some time; and researched and studied and searched and searched more and, I mean, here we are, what? Three weeks out; and I’m still researching and learning more about volcanoes, because that’s kind of the name of the game, and the nature of the beast,” he told Niagara Frontier Publications. “You know, it’s ever-changing, and it’s Mother Nature and it’s unpredictable – as I’ve learned over Niagara Falls and, of course, the Grand Canyon. They always come with their own challenges, and this one is just kind of the next chapter in my life of doing just that.”
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