Nocking on heaven's door.
High above the clouds in Southern Bavaria, a small figure slowly creeps up the cable ear wire of the Zugspitze. At first, he is barely more than a white dot in the far distance but then, as he edges closer, the fog shrouding shroud
1. A cloth used to wrap a body for burial; a winding sheet.
2. Something that conceals, protects, or screens: under a shroud of fog.
a. those lofty heights begins to lift, revealing a man dressed all in white and wearing black sports shoes. Without any safety equipment or balancing pole, he is walking to the summit of Germany's highest peak, at an altitude of 2,962 metres above sea level. Taking one step at a time, he overcomes an incline of up to 57 per cent and even finds time to wave at his audience, before reaching the summit after 90 minutes.
It's a magical sight watching this man climb to the top, his body skilfully Adv. 1. skilfully - with skill; "fragments of a nearly complete jug, skillfully restored at the institute of archaeology"
skilfully (US), skillfully adv → habilement absorbing gusts of winds and wire vibrations; so magical indeed that you would think it is a trick of the eye. Yet, this isn't the movies and nothing has been edited out. What we are witnessing is a brave feat by daredevil tightrope walker Freddy Nock nock
1. The groove at either end of a bow for holding the bowstring.
2. The notch in the end of an arrow that fits on the bowstring.
tr.v. nocked, nock·ing, nocks
1. , a Swiss artist, who has made it his business to make the impossible possible.
Born to be on the tightrope
Fear is a foreign concept for a sky walker who is the scion sci·on
1. A descendant or heir.
2. also ci·on A detached shoot or twig containing buds from a woody plant, used in grafting. of one of Switzerland's oldest and most renowned circus dynasties. The colourful colourful or US colorful
1. with bright or richly varied colours
2. vivid or distinctive in character
Adj. 1. history of the Nocks, who are said to be of Irish descent, dates back to 1770, when their romance with the tightrope began and they first became circus artists. Less than a century later, in 1860, the family founded their own circus.
Alfredo (Freddy) was born in 1964 in Granichen, a municipality of Canton Aargau. As a small child, he marvelled wide-eyed at his family's performance on the tightrope--his father, mother and elder brother demonstrating their skills At the age of four, when he was steady enough on his feet, he too started to learn the skills of the family trade and became a master of the tightrope, "I first practised at 50 centimetres above the ground; later, I advanced to a height of 2.50 metres," Nock remembers "To me, that was already high. My dad taught me all the Old secrets that were once passed down to him; how to slide your foot along slowly and how to balance." Aged five, Nock first performed in the circus ring, and "it was a wonderful feeling." There was no nervousness, only excitement. "I still get just as hyper A Greek work meaning "above" or "more than." It is used as a prefix to technical concepts and products to convey a more advanced or more automatic capability. today as I did then," he admits. "It's a joy to be up on the tightrope and show people what I can do."
With experience, Nock became more and more daring. Still only a child, he had already learnt from some of the greatest artists in his field and, through hard training, had become a skilled performer himself. Now, it was time to start experimenting. "My dad scolded me when he found me practising in wooden shoes, telling me not to mess about," Nock recalls. "But I wanted to be able to walk across in any type of footwear--leather, wood or those cowboy boots that were so fashionable at the time." Through his experiments, the artist developed the special technique that is his trademark to date--as well as the elusive feeling that ensures he never puts a foot wrong. Meanwhile, being a child of the circus, young Freddy was also exposed to many other circus acts--he first trained ponies, then horses and finally elephants. However, his true passion remained the tightrope, as he loved the element of danger.
"Why this fascination with danger?" I ask Nock and be is quick to answer. "When you cheat death three times as a child, it is easy to believe that you are invincible." At the age of five, Nock was playing outside near a pack of fighting dogs, when a frightened fright·en
v. fright·ened, fright·en·ing, fright·ens
1. To fill with fear; alarm.
2. brown bear broke loose. The boy was unlucky enough to be in the animal's path. "Normally, you could even pet the bear, this is how tame it was, but it must have been scared by those dogs," he explains. 'I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and so it attacked me--it threw me onto the ground, face down and then it bit into my head. It ripped off all my hair and my skin. It should have killed me, but somehow, I survived. After three months in hospital, where they transplanted skin and hair, I was back on the rope as if nothing had happened. They told me I would be bald by 30, but look at me today!" The 47-year-old proudly points at the full head of hair that sits on top of his thin frame.
Just over two years later a careless Nock ran out onto the street without looking and right into the path of a VW bus. What might easily have killed him, left him almost entirely unharmed. Someone, somewhere was watching over this boy. Shortly afterwards, as an eight-year-old, Nock slipped on a pier in Locarno, when running after a paddleboat, and fell into the blue waters of Lago Maggiore. Unable to swim, he went straight under. 'I was down there for a long time, but you know, it was a beautiful feeling. There was no panic, but, instead, it was rather lovely. If this is what death is like, there is no reason to be afraid,' Nock points out. The child with many lives was pulled out eventually and successfully revived to live another day.
All these experiences undoubtedly shaped the artist, who today understands death as a "part of life." He believes that when your time is up, it's up and there is no point losing sleep over it. Nock is not afraid of death, but holds great respect for it. In fact, what frightens the sky walker more than dying is the possibility of losing an arm or a leg. And he was lucky not to, when at the age of 22, he fell from a height of four metres onto concrete ground, because he was distracted by a beautiful blonde in the front row. He got away with two broken hands. "Never again, I told myself. It can't happen again," he says "And it won't. I am 100 per cent certain that I will not fall again."
Nock always tries to find the positives in his experiences. "We all make mistakes, but it depends on your personality how you deal with them. De you dust yourself off and get back up or do you stay down? They say 'what goes up, must come down'--my motto is 'what comes down, must go back up!" And so he never stays down for long.
Reaching for the stars
The artist first drew international attention in 1994, when he won the silver medal at the international circus festival in Monte Carlo Monte Carlo (môNtā` kärlō`), town (1982 pop. 13,150), principality of Monaco, on the Mediterranean Sea and the French Riviera. , performing as part of the White Angels While this was a great achievement, the circus child had much bigger plans. He wanted to prove to his parents that "the impossible was possible." At the tender age of 11, they had told him that it was impossible to walk up the cable oar wire he had been eyeing up in St. Moritz . "I remember my father saying that the wire was just too St. Moritz (German: Sankt Moritz, Romansh: San Murezzan) is a popular resort town in the Engadine valley in Switzerland. greasy greas·y
adj. greas·i·er, greas·i·est
1. Coated or soiled with grease.
2. Containing grease, especially too much grease: a greasy hamburger.
3. and slippery Nobody had done anything like it before--he told me that it couldn't be done," Nock says. "Of course, I was going to take the challenge!" And so, years later, Nock became the first man to walk along the St Moritz cable car wire.
Today, the unbelievable stunt in St Moritz in 1998 is just one of the Swiss daredevil's multiple entries in the Guinness Book of World Records. His proudest achievements include the 2006 walk along 1,222.7 metres of the Santis cable car wire and his crossing of Lake Zurich For the lake and village in the U.S., see .
Lake Zurich (Alemannic: Zürisee; German: Zürichsee) is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the town of Zürich. It is also known as Lake Zürich and Lake of Zürich. in 2010. Another highlight of Nock's career was when, at the age of 44, he won the high tightrope Championship title in the South Korean capital of Seoul in 2009. To date, his record remains unbeaten.
Earlier this year, the artist attempted seven world records in seven days in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. While the overall pursuit failed due to bad weather, the performer successfully completed the longest and highest wire walk above sea level without a balancing pole: his unusual climb of the German Zugspitze. Although obviously disappointed he couldn't do it all, Nock is adamant that there is always a next time and leaves no doubt that he is eager to add more titles to his collection.
The sky is the limit
"if you don't try, you will never know what it's like," says Nock in response to the question of what drives him. At the age of 47, the father of five is still full of ideas and is convinced that even at 80, he will still be walking his beloved tightrope. His dream is to be the opening act for the Zuri Fest with fireworks fireworks: see pyrotechnics.
Explosives or combustibles used for display. Of ancient Chinese origin, fireworks evidently developed out of military rockets and explosive missiles and accompanied the spread of military explosives westward to going off all around him. "I am working on that," he laughs. His face lights up in wrinkles wrinkles
See bells and whistles. of happiness when he talks about his joy for what he does--and the pride he feels when he thinks that his children may one day follow in his footsteps.