No Harness, No Net: High-Wire Daredevil Nik Wallenda Shares His 'Backup Plan'
He has already crossed the Grand Canyon on a high wire without a harness, and on Sunday, master tightrope artist Nik Wallenda is set to face an equal challenge – this time, between two Chicago skyscrapers.
In both situations, he says, he counts on the same backup plan: the wire itself.
“I am always thinking, ‘You have the wire at your feet. You can always go down to that wire,’ ” Wallenda, whose Chicago walk will air live on Discovery on Nov. 2, tells PEOPLE.
“If you watched the Grand Canyon walk, you saw me kneel down. I got hit with 48 m.p.h. winds, and I said, ‘I’m going to grab this wire [with my feet] and do what I’m trained for,’ ” he says.
“That’s one of the ways that I’m able to stay calm and focused,” he adds.
This time, though, there will be another challenge in the mix: Wallenda, 35, will be wearing a blindfold for a portion of the walk some 50 stories above the frigid Chicago River.
“You’re losing your most important sense, so you feel like someone could always sneak up on you,” says the married father of three and seventh-generation wire walker. “You don’t want to overbalance, you don’t want to overcompensate.”
Explaining his process, he says, “Normally, when I’m doing a walk that is extremely strenuous mentally, I will overreact. It makes you work a lot harder. So, it’s about these extremely miniscule movements in my muscles, trying to keep everything as still as possible.”
In the end, he says, “It’s trying to keep my mind as calm as possible, in what I would say is the most stressful situation I’ve ever put myself through.”
Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda will air Sunday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel.