May Matt Irving
Irving had been working out of a temporary base camp on Baffin Island’s frozen Sam Ford Fjord, in Canada, for more than a week when he learned that the helicopter scheduled for this shoot had been canceled. “Something about bad weather,” says the Salt Lake City photographer. “We had to improvise.” With the help of BASE jumpers Tim Dutton, Jesse Hall, and J. T. Holmes, Irving scouted this 2,200-foot cliff and captured the three in mid-leap from a nearby ledge. “I was only a few steps from a pretty terrifying drop, but it wasn’t until we brought the video director up later that week and made him harness in that I realized I probably should have been strapped in, too.”
THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm f/1.4 lens, ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/1,600 second
May Jordan Manley
To set up this shot of kayaker John Irvine running the Seymour River in British Columbia, Manley needed to get above the action. With the help of two friends, the North Vancouver photographer rigged a Tyrolean traverse 150 feet above the canyon, clipped his harness into the line, and captured Irvine on his second pass through the whitewater. “I was probably up there for 30 minutes,” says Manley. “I’ve shot from helicopters and the sides of mountains, but this was a first for me.”
THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 17–35mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens, ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/2,000 second
May Grant Ordelheide
“My friends and I were headed to Yosemite to do some climbing,” says Ordelheide, of Denver. “We’d been on the road for about two hours when I realized I had forgotten my camera.” Still, they went back and got it. After summiting the park’s popular Cathedral Peak late in the afternoon, Ordelheide asked his climbing partners to traverse over to nearby Eichorn Pinnacle so he could capture them rappelling off the top as the sun set. “I wasn’t sure they were going to make it in time, but they did, and this was exactly the shot I wanted,” he says. “It also made for a very long hike out in the dark.”
THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark II, 17–40mm f/4 lens, ISO 800, f/7.1, 1/50 second
April Daniel Sohner
For one day each October, it's legal to BASE-jump and rappel off the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. It's called Bridge Day, and last year 400 jumpers and 300 rappellers came from 41 states and 10 countries. "It's controlled chaos," says Sohner, of Columbus, Ohio. "There are lines of people waiting to jump or lower from the bridge." To capture these four figures in various stages of rappelling, Sohner aimed up from a boat on the river below. "The tricky part was exposing the photo so the ropes were washed out but the profiles were clear.
THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 640, f/4, 1/640 second.
April Jeremy Bernard
Minutes before Bernard captured Jeremie Heitz dropping off a 200-foot cliff near Zermatt, Switzerland, their skiing partner, Swiss mountain guide Samuel Anthamatten, tore his ACL on the same line. "We'd just lost the only guy who knew where the best skiing was," says Bernard, of Annecy, France. Fortunately, Anthamatten, who skied down to the bottom, insisted he wasn't in (much) pain. So what did he do? "He sat in the passenger seat and guided us to some of the most epic lines in the Alps. Needless to say, we bought him a few beers to show our thanks."
THE TOOLS: Canon 1D Mark IV, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/5, 1/2,500 second.
April Luke Tikkanen
As soon as temperatures drop low enough to freeze the water seeping off of the sandstone cliffs around Lake Superior, ice climbers like Austin Fogt and Ross Herr flock to Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. "I was supposed to be in class at Northern Michigan University, but played hooky to climb," says 23-year-old Fogt, pictured here halfway up a 175-foot iron-stained column of ice. "It was actually a really bad day to skip, because I was supposed to be helping out on a big group final. But missing out on that climb would have been worse. Besides, I still managed to graduate."
THE TOOLS: Canon T2i, 50mm f/1.8 lens, ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/1,600 second.
March Ryan Creary
Creary and split-boarder Mikel Witlox came across this snow-covered boulder field in British Columbia's Lizard Range on an early April morning. "It was like skiing across a Dr. Seuss book," says Creary, of Revelstoke, B.C. He snapped Witlox skinning beneath a 20-foot boulder moments after the sun crested the ridge to the east, casting 50-foot shadows. "It was very abstract," says Creary. And fleeting. Ten minutes later the sun was up, and the light went flat. "That's the joy of mountains. Sometimes the perfect shot exists for only a single moment."
THE TOOLS: Canon 7D 70-200mm f/4 lens, ISO 200, f/9, 1/1,250 second.
March Steve Ogle
Ice caves formed by meltwater often run beneath glaciers. Last November, Ogle found this one in the Yahoo glacier near his home in Nelson, British Columbia. "I was totally blown away," Ogle says. The glacier had collapsed above the cave, creating a window in the ice. "It was like looking at an optical illusion," he says. To capture the two-tiered effect, he asked one of his skiing partners to stand at the entrance to the cave and the other, David Lussier, to climb atop the glacier and pose in the window. "David was a bit nervous about falling," Ogle says. "At least he liked the photo."
THE TOOLS: Nikon D7000, 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, ISO 400, f/9, 1/125 second.
February Donald Miralle
To capture 2,000 triathletes swimming across Kailua Bay at October’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, Miralle needed to get above the action. “It’s the only way to show the madness of that mass start,” says the San Diego photographer. After shooting this photo from a helicopter at 7 a.m., he spent the next 10 hours on a motorcycle, following the athletes through all three stages of the 140-mile race. “I competed in a few triathlons years ago but nothing like this. It’s incredibly inspiring what these people can do.”
THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 70–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/1,600 second.
February Kari Medig
Medig shot Revelstoke, British Columbia, skiers Audray Ayotte and Gurpreet Chandna skinning up 13,000-foot Rohtang Pass on the last day of a three-week backcountry trip in the Indian Himalayas. After summiting, they skied down to the village of Manali for a 17-hour bus ride back to Delhi. “That part of the country is such an interesting mixture of remoteness and culture,” says Medig, of Nelson, B.C. “Returning to Canada was kind of a culture shock.”
THE TOOLS: Nikon D300S, 70–300mm f/4–5.6 lens, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/2,500 second.