Risk Management and the Twin Towers Tightrope Walk – Philippe Petit

Just by coincidence I came across the book ‘To reach the clouds’ from Philippe Petit. The story about Philippe, who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the WTC on August 7, 1974, was used in the book ‘Let the Great World Spin’ from Colum McCann. Curious how Philippe executed this, what he called his project, I read his own book about this walk too.

See also Youtube: To reach the clouds

It’s an amazing, spectacular and compelling story, you can’t stop reading, and you must know how the project moves on. If you want to talk about risks and risk responses like Avoid, Reduce, Fallback, Transfer, Share and Accept, you can find great examples in this book. Philippe: “I know it’s impossible. But I’ll do it!”

– The risk to lose his balance: he used a balancing pole (Reduce)
– The risk of falling of the rope due to vibrations: he used cavalettis: vibration-reducing guy-lines tied to the walk cable (Reduce)
– The risk getting caught by security: he created I.D.Cards (Avoid)
– The risk of failure: He created a team around him to execute this project (Share)
– The risk of bad weather and the people can’t see you from the ground or the wind speed is to high: he used the five day weather forecast and had several options to go for the walk (Fallback)
– The risk to fall of the rope. He had to install a little carabiner on the wire linked by a very thin wire to a safety belt concealed under his costume (Fallback). Philippe; “I cannot, I never will … do that.” So this fallback was out of the question and not used.
– When he steps on the rope, knowing he didn’t succeed with all the fine-tuning but there was no time left, he had to accept the risk of falling (Accept)
– Afraid for the risk to fall, Phillippe could ask someone else to do the performance (Transfer). Philippe never thought about this option!

If you like reading, I will definitely recommend this book and you will have several enjoyable hours.


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