Published Date Written by Craig LyonsAs Nik Wallenda prepared to make his historic tightrope walk across Niagara Falls on Friday, the work of a Maine company made it possible for him to perform the record-setting feat.
Yale Cordage — a Saco-based rope manufacturer — was picked by Wallenda to make some of its Ultrex rope to help hold up the cable that ran below his feet during the crossing.
"We're really excited as a company to be a part of a world wide event," said Jamie Goddard, a senior account manager at Yale Cordage.
Wallenda is the first person to attempt to cross Niagara Falls directly. He will start at New York's Goat Island and gradually make his way to Canada's Queen Victoria Park.
ABC televised Wallenda's crossing Friday night.
Wallenda is an American high wire artist, according to his website, and has made several record-setting crossings during his career.
The Ultrex rope was picked to be a part of the hosting and securing mechanism for the two-inch cable — which weighs nearly seven tons — that ran the span of the falls, according to a press release.
The contractor who designed the cable and accessory structures picked the rope. The ropes were primarily used during the construction of the cable and were removed once the structure was firmly in place.
Yale Cordage manufactures application-specific ropes like winch lines, fiber optic pulling lines, lifting slings and climbing lines, according to a press release. The company also designs custom ropes.
The primary attraction to Yale Cordage's Ultrex rope was its weight-to-strength ratio, according to a press release, because it was light enough to be flown across the falls. The rope was able to hold the weight of the crossing cable during the installation process.
"Steel products with comparable strength to Ultrex would be far too heavy to transport via helicopter," said Yale Cordage Vice President William Putnam, in a press release.
The Ultrex rope is one of Yale Cordage's normal products, said Goddard, though Wallenda's rope was specifically designed to meet length and color specifications.
Wallenda had used one of the types of rope the company manufactures during a previous stunt, said Goddard, came back to the company when he was preparing for the Niagara crossing. He said it's exciting that he decided to return to the company.
The stunt is actually a great application for the Ultrex rope, said Goddard, because it is normally used by utility companies to string high-tension wires and other cables.
"It's as strong as steel cable would be," Goddard said.
The Ultrex rope was needed to prepare to the event, said Goddard, because it'd be nearly impossible to string a cable directly across the gorge. He said the rope could be flown across the gorge then used to haul the cable across.
"It was quite a feat," he said. "Without our rope he would have no cable."
The cable was strung across the gorge a few nights before the stunt, said Goddard, though they were able to watch it via webcam and see the Ultrex rope do its job.
"It's a pretty cool process," he said.
Goddard said Wallenda didn't get permission to perform the stunt until the end of April so the whole project had to come together fast. He said Yale Cordage had a month to put together the rope and they were pleased that they were able to pull it off.
"It was really cool to see it come together," he said.