There is a certain subset of human beings who, for some reason or other, are not content as most of us are to simply walk about on the streets and paths and over the meadows that lie below our feet. No, these folks feel consumed by a burning desire to, for some damn reason, string a length of rope or wire or cable between two places, often at a great elevation, and then walk from one point to another across said span of narrow wire, cable, etc.
We “Land Walkers,” as the tightrope walking subset calls us (probably), may never truly understand what compels people to engage in this activity, but I think we can all agree that we do not feel the same compulsion.
I, for example, have never looked up at a pair of tall buildings and said “Hey, I think I should walk across a rope strung between those two!” But you know what, I guess I shouldn’t judge something until I’ve tried it. But where to start? In case you have the same quandary, here are some past exploits to whet your tightrope enthusiasm appetite!
5 Nik Wallenda
Hey, it’s Nik Wallenda to end our list, too! He gets his second tip of the cap for setting the record for the world’s longest bike ride on a tightrope, which was just a bit shy of 250 feet! Now I know, I know: you’re probably saying “I could do that, because I, in fact Nik Wallenda!” Well, Nik, good for you, but I still prefer my bicycle on solid ground or at least flying through the air thanks to some 1980s movie magic.
4 Eskil RÃ¸nningsbakken
Eskil Rønningsbakken was a Norwegian who decided to one up ol’ Mr. L’Estrange: he does his tightrope walking on a tightrope pulled between two hot air balloons! Eskil is still alive and well and looking for new ways to out crazy those who came before, so stand by for him to die tragically—I mean set new records.
3 Henri L’Estrange
In 1877, Henri L’Estrange (appropriate name) walked across a 1,400 foot long tightrope strung across Australia’s Sydney Harbor. He is still the only person to have completed this specific tightrope walk, and that is um… really something. He went on to a brief and disastrous career in balloon flight and, perhaps most impressive, did not die from either pursuit!
2 Johann Traber
The fastest ever motorcycle wheelie on a tightrope may have only been about 30 MPH but lest you missed it, let me be clear: we’re not just talking about a motorcycle on a tightrope… we are talking about a WHEELIE while on a tightrope. That is exponential crazy right there. So hats/helmets off to German dare devil Johann Traber, a man who is great at some things but maybe best not left alone in charge of the kids. Judgment, and all, you see…
1 Nik Wallenda
Let’s start this crazy train out right! Every hundred or so years, it seems someone just has to walk across Niagara Falls on a damn tightrope. Just this year a fellow named Nik Wallenda completed the insanely dangerous feat, being the first person to complete the feat since the late 19th century. Bravo, we say! And then we say “Wait… no actually, could you just explain why?”
So you see, friends, it has all been done, and there is no need for you to risk your damn life on a tightrope! Unless… oh wait, I just got it… handstand on the back of a galloping horse on a tightrope suspended between two buildings. Hell yeah, that I can support.