TODAY   |  June 21, 2013

Daredevil: ‘I’ve trained hard’ for Grand Canyon walk

Tightrope-walking daredevil Nik Wallenda is looking forward to his most death-defying stunt yet: crossing the Grand Canyon with no harness or safeguards in place. He talks to TODAY’s Natalie Morales and Willie Geist about what inspires him and how he has prepared for the stunt.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 7:42 with the high wire act at the grand canyon a lot of people will be watching this weekend.

>> natalie and willie are there with a preview.

>> good morning. it's getting more beautiful out here by the second as the sunrises. you can see why millions of people come to the grand canyon every year. it's for these views. most of us happy to stay about this close to the edge .

>> but one man, nik wallenda is attempting to become the first man to cross over the canyon on nothing more than a two inch thick steel wire.

>> reporter: it's an awe inspiring sight millions of years in the making. it's equal parts treasure and mystery. and now the setting to one of the most dangerous stunts of all time.

>> the most challenging walk i've ever done. i don't want to talk about death. i try not to let my mind ever go to those places.

>> on sunday, 34-year-old nik wallenda , one of the world's most famous daredevils will attempt to be the first to cross over the grand canyon on a wire 1500 feet above ground. about as high as the empire state building . the length, 1400 feet across, the distance of four football fields. all on a wire just two inches thick. there will be no safety harness . there will be no net. failure most likely fatal.

>> it's extremely important that i make it to the other side. what's at stake, clearly my life is on the line but it's about fulfilling a dream and that's what is at stake.

>> nick comes from a long line of dreamers.

>> the most celebrated name in show business . the flying wallendas .

>> reporter: he is 7th generation of a family famed for defying gravity. always without a net. nick's great grandfather carl died on the high wire in puerto rico . when he stumbled there was nothing to catch his fall. and nick will walk across the canyon in his family's tradition.

>> that cable and below that cable is nothing but 1500 feet down to the colorado river but that's important to me to do it way our family has always done it.

>> every dare he's accomplished, every record he has broken has been a test for this very moment.

>> the truth is it's life or death and when i make it to that other side, we all know that it's life.

>> and living this life is the wallenda way.

>> my great grandfather said it best. he said life is on the wire and everything else is just waiting.

>> and look who just pulled up. the man himself, nik wallenda . we're standing here and i'm just like in awe of this view and this site and thinking about what it means for you to get here after so many years preparing for this.

>> it's extremely exciting. this is the first time i've been on site since -- it's just a rope but not a cable but i can visually what it will be like.

>> you insisted there would be no tether. why is it better for you not to have one? that's what you argued.

>> the biggest reason is because i've never worn one before other than the niagara falls walk. it's something very uncomfortable for me. it's like telling you to get in the car and drive on the other side of the road today. what are the biggest concerns here, beyond the obvious, what you're crossing.

>> you know, i trained very hard in my hometown. i trained during tropical storm andrea in a torrential downpour. i trained with my wind machine , 91 miles per hour winds on the wire but it is the winds and a lot is the mental preparation and my heart is beating with excitement because this is a dream becoming reality.

>> do you get nervous at all.

>> there will be nerves before the walk but some of the greatest entertainers in the world get nervous before they go on stage and this is just a very unique stage.

>> there's some things you couldn't prepare for, there's up drafts that come up from the bottom of the canyon. essentially hot air rushing out of the canyon. that's one thing you couldn't be ready for.

>> that's correct. it's hard to prepare for that. we have done our best. we have tried to create up drafts but when it comes down to mother nature we're not in control and that's the only thing that really concerns me.

>> and we should point out when you step on this fire this will be the first time and only time you're stepping out on this actual wire.

>> there's no dress rehearsal.

>> that's it, right?

>> it is but extremely exciting.

>> no room for error here.

>> no room for error.

>> we're more nervous than nik is.

>> beyond. my stomach is in knots. i don't know how you're going to do it but i'm excited to be here and witness this. good luck.

>> we'll talk to you throughout the morning.

>> sounds great.

>> guys, back to you.

>> willie and natalie, thanks. thank you very much as well.

>> my stomach is in knots just thinking about it.

>> just ahead, the phenomenal 16-year-old