Great Britain

Man to walk tightrope over active volcano

A man who has previously tightroped walked over the churning waters of Niagara Falls is now set to perform a similarly bowel-clenching feat, this time crossing an active volcano full of fiery lava.

Nik Wallenda, who holds numerous records for his highwire and tightrope acts, has announced he is to take on his “most dangerous walk yet”, when he crosses the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua during a live TV broadcast.

The volcano has previously been described as a “ticking time bomb” and a “volatile inferno… so fierce local crusaders once tried to exercise the devil out of its heart” in a National Geographic documentary.

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The overall size of the volcanic caldera is around seven miles across. And the active volcano cone, which Mr Wallenda will cross, has risen up in the centre of it.

The large double vent continually emits large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas, which mixes with the moisture in the air to form highly corrosive sulphuric acid.

Masaya has erupted at least 13 times in the last 30 years, with the last being a small eruption on 15 October 2019.

The crossing of the volcano “has me truly challenging and facing any limitations that I may still have in my mind,” Mr Wallenda wrote on Twitter. 

He also said a crew is already on the ground beginning to set up the rigging.

Mr Wallenda will attempt a 1,800-foot walk, which will be broadcast by America’s ABC on 4 March. The network said the stunt would be the “longest and highest highwire walk ever attempted” by Mr Wallenda. 

“Part of the famed Pacific Ring of Fire, Masaya encompasses multiple craters and is one of very few volcanoes to possess a lava lake. The extreme environment at Masaya will add an extra set of risks to Nik’s already daring walk,” ABC said.

In a statement, Mr Wallenda said: “After spending years scouting and researching volcanoes, I fully realise why no one has ever attempted this feat: Mother Nature is extremely unpredictable. 

“It is by far the most dangerous walk I have EVER attempted, and that alone makes it very intimidating.

“I am pushing myself beyond my comfort zone by the feat itself, but I know that I am up to the challenge. I must admit, it is scary.”

The broadcast will be the latest in a string of feats including Mr Wallenda’s walks across a Grand Canyon gorge, across Niagara Falls and between skyscrapers in Chicago.

Last year he and his sister Lijana carried out a highwire walk 25 stories above Times Square in New York.

Mr Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas family – a daredevil troupe famous for performing aerial feats without safety nets.

Mr Wallenda recently posted a photograph on instagram showing an old poster advertising a performance by his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda and motorbike stunt jumper Evel Knieval.

It reads: “See them before they die: In person, Evel Knieval and the Great Wallender. For the first time together, defying death.”

“Clickbait before the internet existed, Mr Wallenda said of the poster featuring his great-grandfather, who ultimately fell to his death in 1978, at the age of 73, when he fell from a highwire during a walk between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Should I bring back the ‘see me before I die” tagline?’ Mr Wallenda asked.