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Daredevil completes walk across Niagara Falls

By the CNN Wire Staff
June 16, 2012 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/24/us/arizona-high-wire-wallenda/index.html'> quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon</a> on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year. Nik Wallenda, 34, nears the completion of his quarter-mile walk near the Grand Canyon on Sunday, June 23, in Arizona. He crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge without the aid of a safety tether. He is a member of the famous Flying Wallendas, founded by his great-grandfather Karl in the 1920s, and also walked across Niagara Falls last year.
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Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
Wallenda family through the years
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Other daredevils have tried their luck, but farther downstream
  • Next on his to-do list? The Grand Canyon
  • Wallenda had a near fall after stumbling on a tightrope above Baltimore's Inner Harbor
  • His great-grandfather was killed at the age of 73 attempting to walk between two buildings

(CNN) -- Cloaked in darkness and enveloped by mist, aerialist Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope late Friday and into the record books.

It was a historic walk that observers say was in line with his appetite for the extreme and the high-wire customs of his "Flying Wallendas" family.

Pumping his fist in the air, Wallenda sprinted the last few steps on the wire. After touching down on Canadian soil, he embraced his family, grinning ear to ear.

The tense 1,800-foot journey took 25 minutes, according to CNN affiliate CTV.

Man attempts to tightrope Niagara Falls
Daredevil set to traverse Niagara Falls

"I'm extremely blessed to be where I am," Wallenda said after stepping onto Canadian soil.

Gotta watch: Tightrope stunts

To abide with immigration law, he had a U.S. passport tucked in a plastic bag in his pocket during the trip, according to the affiliate. Two border guards were waiting as soon as he stepped on Canadian soil to ensure he had the correct paperwork.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he told ABC, which broadcast the event. "This is something that I've played over and over in my mind for the last 20 years, and to finally be here at this point, it is very surreal. As I said as I left that wire, I'm extremely blessed to be where I am."

Wallenda described the difficulties of dealing with the wind and heavy mist from the roaring falls.

"It's all about the concentration, the focus, and it all goes back to the training. You know, in the middle of the wire at one point, I just started thinking about great-grandfather and paying tribute to him and all the walks that he did," he said.

His great-grandfather Karl Wallenda was killed at the age of 73, attempting to walk between two buildings in Puerto Rico in 1978.

When asked by ABC how he planned to top the walk over Niagara Falls, Wallenda said he hopes to become the first person in the world to walk a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, in Arizona.

Thousands were on hand to watch Wallenda teeter his way on the 2-inch-wide wire over Horseshoe Falls toward Canada. He wore a harness at the insistence of those sponsoring the event, officials say, despite what he said was his desire to walk without a safety rig.

Nik Wallenda, 121 feet in the air: 'It's extremely important to never let your mind wander'

Wearing a red and black rain jacket and a balance pole around his neck, Wallenda appeared calm and focused as he took small steps, gingerly placing one foot in front of the other.

Wallenda, who hails from multiple generations of high-flying daredevils, had a near fall as he stumbled on a tightrope above Baltimore's Inner Harbor earlier this year.

"It's been a dream of mine for a long time," Wallenda told CNN before the Niagara Falls attempt. "I'm one of those people who always tries to overachieve. I want to do more. I want to do bigger things."

Other daredevils have tried their luck walking over Niagara, but farther downstream and not since 1896.

More than 10 people have attempted to cross different parts of Niagara Falls, some in barrels, one on a bicycle and even one with a washing machine strapped to his back.

Wallenda is the first person in recent history to cross over the actual falls, braving the thick mist and roaring waters, according to the affiliate.

Nik Wallenda finishes high-wire act that killed great-grandfather

CNN's Jason Carroll contributed to this report

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