American daredevil Nik Wallenda walks tightrope across active volcano known as “The Mouth of Hell”

Photo via CBS News

American daredevil Nik Wallenda walked a tightrope across the crater of an active volcano in Nicaragua Wednesday, taking half an hour to traverse the boiling lake of lava spewing toxic gases. The Masaya Volcano, 2,083 feet high and 12 miles from Managua, is one of only eight volcanoes in the world with an active lava lake.

Wallenda started his 1,800-foot walk across the crater known as “The Mouth of Hell” at 8:20 pm Wednesday and finished 31 minutes later, sweaty and cheerful.

For the stunt, he wore goggles and a respirator for protection from the noxious gases. However, Wallenda removed his goggles about halfway through the stunt.

Wallenda, who is the seventh generation of the famed Great Wallendas family of stunt daredevils and circus performers, said gusts of winds caused him to lose his balance a little while the gases affected his eyes despite the goggles.

Wallenda, who has previously walked a high wire across Niagara Falls and made a blindfolded crossing between two towers in Chicago, said it was the longest and most dangerous highwire walk of his life.

But unlike those stunts, he had a safety harness for the volcano crossing, which was broadcast for ABC’s “Volcano Live!” special and a local TV channel. The feat was captured by 17 cameras and four drones.

After accomplishing the feat, Wallenda said he was “relieved” to make it across safely as the “unpredictable” winds made the walk especially challenging.

The show began with his wife, acrobat Erendira, performing pirouettes on a hoop suspended over the lava lake.

In 2016, American explorer Sam Cossman, wearing a special suit to withstand the extreme temperatures, descended to the depths of the crater. In 1538, Friar Blas del Castillo also made a descent, believing the lava was gold.

Last year, Wallenda and his sister, Lijana Wallenda, safely crossed Times Square on a high wire strung between two skyscrapers 25 stories above the pavement. In 2013, Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon.

First published on March 5, 2020 / 7:21 AM

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