Nik Wallenda on Making Highwire History With 'Volcano Live!' (PHOTO)
High-wire artist Nik Wallenda is at it again. The 41-year-old daredevil — holder of 11 acrobatics-related Guinness World Records — is undertaking a live stunt even more daring than his 25-story walk over New York City's Times Square, which he accomplished last June with his sister, Lijana. This time, he's going solo over Nicaragua's active Masaya Volcano.
"To my knowledge, no one in the world has ever walked over a volcano," says Wallenda (above, scouting the location). (Check out the exclusive key art noting the historic nature of his walk below.) The husband and dad of three found his inspiration on an airplane en route to a vacation with aerialist wife Erendira. "We flew over a famous volcano near Mexico City, and it stirred my curiosity," he says. "From then on, I had to find a volcano to walk over."
Masaya, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, ticked all the boxes for Wallenda: Active lava above ground and magma below? Check. (The temperature of the latter is a comfy 2,000-plus degrees!) Lots of gases? Check. A giant caldera, to provide a true challenge? Check. In fact, this will be Wallenda's highest and longest walk ever: more than 2,000 feet off the ground and 1,800 across. Suffice to say, the man is not without apprehension.
"What worries me are the gases that are toxic as well as blinding, and the winds," he admits. "And the fact that it could erupt at any moment." (Volcanologists will monitor any activity.)
To prepare for the elements, Wallenda is training with wind machines and an oxygen-deprivation mask, although he'll wear a gas mask when taking on the so-called Mouth of Hell. Surprisingly, the considerable temperatures shouldn't be an issue due to the altitude. "If there's a concern with the heat," he notes, "it's that it'll potentially change the tension on the wire."
As with his Niagara Falls (2012) and Grand Canyon (2013) stunts, Wallenda will connect his rigs to the existing surface and string wire from there. Thus anchored, he'll walk. "As far as live TV goes, it doesn't get any more dramatic," he says of the two-hour special. "It is literally life or death." We'll just be over here holding our breath.
Volcano Live! With Nik Wallenda, Wednesday, March 4, 8/7c, ABC