High wire artist Nik Wallenda risked his life to walk across the active Masaya volcano in Nicaragua on a tightrope, after his wife also put her life on the line by performing an aerial ballet over the same lake of lava. Broadcasted live on ABC on Wednesday night, the acrobat kept his balance while trekking across the 1,800-foot tightrope, battling strong winds, unbearable heat, and toxic gas emissions 2,000-feet above the deadly lava.
Before embarking on his life-or-death endeavour, Nik, who has also tightrope walked over Times Square and Niagara Falls, spoke to TMZ about his greatest fears regarding the journey. He felt that his biggest threat were the gasses that emit from the volcano, because they are “so acidic that they’ll eat through the wire rope.” While this concern was certainly “an added layer of stress” for Nik, he was less worried about the high temperatures. “Heat comes in drafts,” he explained. “It is an active volcano with 2,000+ degrees of magma flowing on the ground, it actually shoots the hot air up—100-150 degrees—but again, not constant. So that’s not as big of a concern as those deadly gasses that I’m going to have to get through.” Nik spoke with TMZ again before the big event, noting that the gasses “can be so thick that you can’t see 5-10 feet in front of you.” He was required to wear goggles and a gas mask to protect himself from the toxicity.
“The reality is that’s what I do,” Nik noted. “I risk my life. My family’s risked their lives for over 200 years and 7 generations. This is dangerous, this is real, this is life or death.” Nik is a seventh-generation member of the historic Flying Wallendas family, a circus act of stunt performers that began in Germany the 1920s.
Nik’s wife, Erendira Wallenda, also performed a life-threatening stunt herself to open the show. Erendira performed an aerial ballet above the same volcano before Nik took on his high wire challenge. He ultimately completed the stunt in 31 minutes and made history. Congrats to this family of daredevils.