World Trade Center – August 7, 1974

7 AM. The cable is finally secured and Philippe is about to walk between the towers. This has been without a doubt the longest night of my life. A night of extreme apprehension, distress, frustration and exhaustion. The task seemed impossible and all through the night I was convinced it wouldn’t be done in time. Just before midnight, when we were about to begin pulling the actual cable between the towers, Philippe made an inconceivable error: he had not thought to secure the wire on his side before starting to pass it to me. Within seconds, the entire cable and the rope that preceded it plunged into the void. Now, instead of having to pull 160 feet of cable, I had 400 feet to deal with and because it was hanging in the void, the weight was multiplied considerably. As soon as I started, I realized that Philippe had not executed the dry run in the forest I had insisted upon as part of the preparation in order to determine what gear would be needed. I found myself not only with more than twice the length of wire we’d planned on, but with the wrong equipment necessary to get the job done.

Throughout the night, I relived all the frustrations of the past six months of preparation. It was painfully obvious that Philippe had learned nothing from our aborted attempt three months before, and he had never done the groundwork I had requested. I had had to give him an ultimatum in order to impose my plan to get us safely and secretly to the top. And here we were, so close to our goal and yet almost certain to fail again because he hadn’t followed my instructions.

Alan, the person Philippe had found to help me on my tower, decided that it would never work and gave up almost immediately. I admit I thought it was hopeless as well, but Philippe was my friend and I had to keep going in spite of my doubts. For seven hours, I pulled the cable like a madman, running from one anchor point to the other, trying to gain precious seconds with each maneuver as time inevitably slipped by. Although I had explained my dire situation to him using an interphone system we had set up, Philippe didn’t believe the extent of the catastrophe until dawn when he could see the wire still hanging between the towers, when it should have been drawn tight hours before.

To this day, I don’t know how – against all odds – I got it across in time. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but the cable was at last secured between the two towers and Philippe was going to be able to make his dream come true. Jean François danced with joy. Despite the dizzying gap that separated us, we were connected in our hearts. We had succeeded!

Victory Dance