Nik Wallenda’s High Wire: How Thick Is the Tight Rope?

Nik Wallenda heat

ABC Nik Wallenda

Tonight, daredevil Nik Wallenda will walk on a steel cable that is just over 1-inch thick, and hangs over an active Nicaraguan volcano.

The 41-year-old has already walked across Niagra Falls and the Grand Canyon, but tonight will mark his most daring stunt to date.

Here’s what you should know.


His Uncle Is the Lead Engineer

Mike Troffer, Nik’s uncle, is the lead engineer on the project, and has been preparing for Nik’s walk for six months.

In the words of ABC 7 NY, his job is to “guide a team of riggers to make sure that the main wire, just over 1-inch thick, and the 116 stabilizing wires stay secure.”

Speaking to the Associated Press recently, Wallenda shared, “The cables can’t go up early because the sulfuric gasses in the air will actually eat through the cable to the point where it will actually crumble… We can’t put it up in advance. It’s got to be put up very short window prior to the actual walk.”


He Has Been Practicing Blindfolded

Wallenda has been practicing blindfolded for the walk at his home in Florida.

He tells ABC, “I will be practicing in a smoky room, but it’s training believe it or not, with my eyes closed. It’s training with a gas mask on. It’s training with goggles on. It’s training with wind machines. It’s kind of throwing every element that I’ll be facing.”

The gas mask and goggles will protect Nik from the poisonous gasses, but one thing he’ll still feel is the heat rising up from the lava.

Nik tells Entertainment Weekly that the gasses are so thick, he won’t be able to see more than five feet in front of him.

He adds that while he has trained at home, he’s tried to simulate the conditions he’ll be facing. “We try to simulate heat, we try to simulate gasses with smoke machines at our indoor training facility…”

The gasses, themselves, will pose the biggest danger on the walk. Wallenda explains, “They are deadly gasses that literally absorb the oxygen out of the air, so they would definitely be my biggest concern.”

And because he’s not sure about shifting weather, he will have to wear goggles the entire time, which makes things a bit more difficult. “The mask is in my peripheral vision, so therefore it gets in the way as I’m walking. It’s just an added distraction — certainly something that I don’t plan on doing anytime after this. Although I don’t see myself walking over any more volcanoes anytime soon.”

Still, Wallenda is determined to make the walk. The one thing that could stop him? A volcanic eruption. “There’s no walking a wire in full volcanic eruption. And my father [Terry Troffer], who’s my safety coordinator, he’s the one who makes those decisions with weather or any issue like that,” he tells EW.

The event will air live on ABC beginning at 8pm/7pm central.

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