Page 12 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2020
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continued from page 10             has had some mental side effect. Such   encountered crossing the Grand Canyon.
         right side. For every single walk done,   a life has resulted in PTSD for Nik. “I   I have trained with a gas mask on as well
         re-engineering  is  done  as  well.  It’s a   started to experience fear for one of the   as a wire that we are uncertain of how it
         brand-new project.                 first times in my life. I went to my wife   will react. The wire is thicker than the
           Manpower pulls up the 5/8-inch cable   and admitted that I did not know if I   usual wire that I use. However that is
         which  weighs .77 pounds per foot. “I   could do this anymore. But at no time   not necessarily a good thing.”
         think, so it’s not that heavy. If you’re   did I stop feeling that Karl remains the   In the course of his entire life he has
         picking  up  300 feet  [of  cable],  you’re   biggest hero of my life.”  walked on wire that measures five and
         only lifting 260 pounds. We use a pul-                                an eighth or three quarters of an inch
         ley block to reduce that weight down,   LOOKING BACK, NOT DOWN        in diameter. “This is a one inch wire.
         and have guys on the roof that will ac-  In 2013, he released his  memoir,   Something unfamiliar under  my feet.
         tually pull it up.                 Balance.  He  was  first  across  a  Grand   And again, we do not know  how that
           “Technological  advancements have   Canyon area gorge on  June  23, 2013.   wire is going to react under my feet. It’s
         made my life  a lot easier  than in  the   This  crossing  took place at the Little   obviously a bigger wire.”
         days of  my parents  or  grandparents.   Colorado River outside Grand Canyon   Larger wire is used because when a
         They had to take a wire rope sling, just   National  Park;  the  feat aired  live  on   test was done with thinner wire, after
         a piece of the cable that you walk on,   Discovery.  He followed that up with   three months that line literally crum-
         and wrap whatever beam the cable was   Skyscraper Live, on Discovery Channel,   bled in Nik’s hands. This of course is
         going be tied to. But in order to do that   completing two tightrope walks and set   unacceptable; the plunge to the bottom
         you need to protect every corner,  be-  two new Guinness World Records: one   is 1,800 feet while the distance across
         cause it can cut through the steel, and   for  walking  the  steepest tightrope  in-  matches that number.
         you have to pad everything.”       cline  between two buildings,  and the   “But of course I’m not thinking of any
           Now they use a nylon round sling. It   other  for  the  highest  tightrope walk   of those things when I am out over the
         is a nylon loop, wrapped around what-  while blindfolded.             expanse of the volcano,” explains Wal-
         ever they are attaching the cable to,   Back to Nik’s latest endeavor. He did   lenda. “I focus on my years of developing
         I-beams, or a lot of times they’ll use   overcome his fear. But Wallenda did uti-  my skills, my training and everything
         elevator shafts  because  they’re  solid   lize a safety harness on his trek across   that I have done in my Florida backyard.
         concrete. They do not generally have to   the abyss the length of six football fields,   “I  tight  wire  walked  just  ten  feet
         worry about padding.               on a one inch wide wire. And this is not   above the ground in my backyard. But
           “So we will wrap it with that and from   the first time that he has pushed the en-  being up over a quarter of a mile above
         there, on the dead end, we call it that be-  velope. His name and that of a genera-  hot lava – even that – can be overcome
         cause there’s no moving parts, we hook   tions  were  known  as  described  above,   psychologically. It is all about overcom-
         in a screw-pin anchor shackle. On the   for their death-defying stunts. Others   ing fear. This is something on which I
         other end we will use a grip puller with   by Nik have included rope walks across   am also writing a book. This is about
         the cable going in one end, you crank on   such places as the Grand Canyon, Ni-  categorizing fears in your mind, putting
         the  machine,  and  the  cable  comes  out   agara Falls, and recently – during this   your mind in that place that is safe.”
         the other. The machine doesn’t affect   past summer – over Times Square.  Back  to  the  physical  reality  of  the
         the cable, it  doesn’t damage it; it just                             setup over the volcano. Just before the
         pulls the cable right through.     ON TO THE VOLCANO                  crossing and setup of the wires, a greasy
           “That attaches  to  our  dynamometer   But this latest dangerous undertak-  substance was discovered  on the  line
         and that will attach to another round   ing also happens to be the highest and   over Masaya. Nik lost sleep over this
         sling  easily,  in  a building-to-building   longest of the high wire crosses that he   news. Then he went back to his practice
         application. Then we’ll tension the   has ever done. To prepare, he had been   line, greased it up, and worked out once
         cable to whatever number Uncle Mike   replicating the potential obstacles at this   more.  His  wife  in  turn  reminded  him
         gives us, and that’s it. And then at that   Sarasota, Florida base of operations.   that some 20 years back he had done a
         point we will add our stabilizer cables   “There are these heavy gases at the   rope walk in Boston on a wire that had
         and slide them into place.”        Masaya Volcano, so thick that you can-  been sent to him fully greased.
           Nik wears shoes with a suede leather   not really see out over the volcano,”   During practice he puts on his wind
         bottom and just a regular leather up-  explains Wallenda. “So  I really  must   machine to duplicate what he soon will
         per,  akin  to an  Indian moccasin.  His   wear a gas mask on the walk.”  find  on  his  actual  volcano  walk.  The
         mom actually makes them – has made   According to physicians,  those sul-  wind  machine  is  set to simulate 90
         them ever since he was four. Thus they   furic  gases could cause serious side   mph winds. In the end, the actual walk
         just call them wire shoes.         effects including teary eyes, burning   in Nicaragua involves winds mostly
           The  bar  being held  is  a balancing   throat, coughing, tightening in the   around 40 mph. This adds to his peace
         pole. “Whether or not I use it depends   chest,  difficulty  breathing,  and  nasal   of mind during the walk. He pulls off
         on the location and what I’m doing. My   congestion. Therefore his preparations   his gas mask as a sign of triumph, no
         pole is 23 feet long. It comes in three   went far beyond that taking place prior   doubt, on the last stretch of the walk.
         sections and weighs about 45 pounds.   to other  tightrope walks.  “This  is  the   Wallenda lives by the mantra “never
         It adds stability. It’s kind of an exten-  challenging crossing of my career so far   give up,” also believing that through
         sion of my arms. If the wind came up   – beyond anything I have encountered.  hard work, one can achieve anything
         and knocked  me, I could actually re-  “Live lava flows beneath me. Of course   they desire.  “I think  challenges  are
         cover. If I was in that situation without   there were distractions during the cross-  what life is about. We all go through
         a balancing pole, it would be nearly im-  over at Times Square. But with this in   challenges.  But  once  we  get through
         possible to recover.”              addition to the liquid fire below me, in-  them, we look back and say look how
           It may come as no surprise that such   timidations come from the deadly gases   much our lives have changed by going
         a  tension  and  drama-filled  existence   and winds – winds comparable to what I   through that challenge.”  WRNWRN
         12     Wire Rope News & Sling Technology   April 2020
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