This August, Mionske shot Colombian Orlando Duque diving into Boston Harbor during the 2013 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Competitors jumped 90 feet, from the roof of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and hit the chilly water at up to 62 miles per hour. To capture the odd juxtaposition, Mionske framed Duque, who won the competition, in an open pike against the Boston skyline. "I'd never shot diving before," says the Brooklyn, New York, photographer, "let alone cliff diving in the middle of a city."
THE TOOLS: Nikon D800, 80–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/2,000 second
Each January, 10,000 people gather at Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minnesota, for the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza, the world's largest ice-fishing tournament. This year, despite temperatures of minus 40 with windchill, Benson, of San Diego, spent 12 hours shooting the spectacle on the ground and from a helicopter. "I was nervous about driving out on the ice with the weight of all those people," he says. "But one of the organizers told me that if I kept my windows open, I'd be fine if the ice gave in."
THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/8, 1/2,500 second
Jorgenson had just headed out to photograph heli-skiing in the Coast Range near Bralorne, British Columbia, when the weather turned foul, grounding him and his crew at the base of the mountain where he'd planned to shoot. "The fog was so thick, we ended up sitting in the helicopter for almost four hours," says the Whistler, British Columbia, photographer. But shortly before sunset, the skies cleared, the chopper took off, and Jorgenson captured this photo of Mammoth, California, skier Parker White airing off a wind lip.
THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 70–200mm f/2.8 lens. ISO 125, f/6.3, 1/2,500 second
Last December, Trautman spent three and a half weeks traveling around Chile with 30 professional kayakers in order to shoot the White Water Grand Prix, an international paddling event held on some of the toughest whitewater in the world. During stage three of the competition, the Bellingham, Washington, photographer captured 25-year-old Jakub Nemec launching off the lip of a ten-foot waterfall on the Rio Nevados. "It was the favorite river of most of the paddlers," says Trautman. "It was also the first and only sunny day of the entire trip."
THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 14mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 500, f/8, 1/3,200 second
In June, Cole was in Mexico scuba diving off Roca Partida—a famously isolated dive site 300 miles southwest of Cabo
San Lucas—when a rare juvenile whale shark appeared out of nowhere and swam right over him, flanked by a pod of dolphins.
"I completely froze," says the Spokane, Washington, photographer. "Dolphins are notoriously curious about humans and other marine life, but I've been a professional under-water photographer for over 20 years, and I've never seen these two species interact like that."
THE TOOLS: Canon 1Ds Mark III, 16–35mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 800, f/13, 1/60 second
To get this shot of professional snowboarder Johnnie Paxson catching air off a boulder during a heli trip in Washington's Cascade Range last February, Serfas and Paxson had to improvise a launch ramp to carry him over the ten-foot gap. "I wanted to catch him between the right rock and the left, and we spent an hour building a kicker so he wouldn't impale himself on the landing," says the Vancouver, British Columbia, photographer. Fortunately, 27-year-old Paxson nailed it, touching down safely in a snow drift on the other side.
THE TOOLS: Canon 1D Mark IV, 50mm f/1.2 lens, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/1,000 second
Last September, when 92 BASE jumpers gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the annual KL Tower International, Rogers made sure he was among them. “I wanted the access,” says the Moab, Utah, shooter, who signed up to jump. While other photographers had to be tethered to a 1,100-foot platform near the top of the skyscraper, Rogers was able to move about freely. Shortly after getting this shot of barrel-rolling New Zealander Malachi Templeton, Rogers him-self launched off the platform. “I didn’t try anything quite so elaborate,” he says. "Just a six-second fall." THE TOOLS: Nikon D800, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/4, 1/4,000 second
Each October, 18,000 riders gather in Fréjus, France, for the Roc d'Azur, one of the largest, longest-running mountain-bike events in the world. To get this shot of last year's start, the Toulon photographer hired a helicopter and shadowed the competitors during the first half-hour of the 35-mile race. "I've been photographing the event for ten years," says Boué. "The only thing that seems to change is that the post-race parties keep getting better."
THE TOOLS: Canon 1D Mark IV, TSE 90mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/1,250 second
In the days leading up to the October 2012 final of Red Bull's invitation-only Rampage mountain-bike competition. in the Utah badlands, Mionske got a sense of the course by touring it with the event's 36 athletes. "The mountain is essentially a blank canvas. Each rider scouts and plans his own route down from the 1,500-foot ridge," says the Brooklyn, New York, photographer. "It's amazing how fast they ride. They're 100 percent committed to their line." Like Kurt Sorge was when he backflipped off this 20-foot cliff at the end of his winning run.
THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 80–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 250, f/4, 1/1,600 second
It took six days for Blake Jorgenson to get this shot of mountain biker Darren Berrecloth setting up a cliff jump near the border of Nepal and Tibet in May. To get there, he and Berrecloth traveled by plane, by jeep, by donkey, and on foot, with all their camera gear and a bike. "It was totally exhausting," says the Whistler, British Columbia, photographer. But it was worth it. "It was like traveling back in time. There's nothing out there but tea huts, exposed mountains, and great riding."THE TOOLS: Nikon D3S, 80–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/6.3, 1/2,500 second
Jeremy Koreski wasn't expecting great surf last January when he shot this image of Noah Cohen getting barreled off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with a 5,000-foot range in the background. "It's gorgeous out there, but the waves are usually bunk," says the photographer, who lives nearby. This time, though, swell, tide, and weather lined up perfectly. "We spent the whole day on the water, which was pretty impressive considering it was 44 degrees," says Koreski. THE TOOLS: Canon 1D-X, 600mm f/4 lens, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1,000 second
When Max Grossman captured an unknown highliner crossing between two granite domes in California's Joshua Tree National Park in January, he figured the shot would be the most interesting part of the trip. But after climbing all day, the Minneapolis photographer was resting in his tent when a man wearing a medallion fashioned from a shower drain approached. "He told us he was a member of the church of the pineapple, and before leaving he painted the fruit on a Franzia wine box and gave it to us as a gift. It's one of the weirder things that has ever happened to me." THE TOOLS: Nikon D3100, 58mm f/5.6 lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/500 second
Kristoffer Szilas was a few minutes into his third day of climbing Alaska's 8,520-foot Citadel, in the Kichatna Range, when he snapped this photo of his two partners ascending the final couloir. "We'd just endured an extremely cold night, sitting on a tiny ice ledge that we'd chopped out of a 70-degree face," says the Danish photographer, who lives in New York City. Szilas wasn't sure they were going to make the summit, until he saw the dawn light on the Kichatna Spire. "It was a magical moment. The weather was clear, and I knew we could push through the last section to the top."THE TOOLS: Ricoh GR Digital III, ISO 64, f/4, 1/1,070 second
To get this shot of a supercell storm near Gurley, Nebraska, Camille Seaman put herself directly in its path. "Supercells can reach up to 60,000 feet into the atmosphere and are as wide as 50 miles across. Chasing them has become an addiction," says the Emeryville, California, photographer. Seaman spends each spring pursuing the storms, which can spin out violent tornadoes, between North Dakota and the Texas panhandle. "This storm was particularly beautiful, because smoke from a massive wildfire outside Fort Collins, Colorado, mixed with the clouds to create an iridescent pink color. I was a little terrified that a tornado might touch down, but the shot was worth it." THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/320 second
Last summer, Josh Smith was driving home across Australia's Great Dividing Range when he captured this image of an enormous storm brewing behind a forested ridge. "My family was asleep in the car, but after an hour of watching the air mass develop, I couldn't resist trying to get a shot," says the New South Wales photographer. Smith's wife woke up and rolled her eyes when he pulled over and climbed onto the hood of the car. "It wasn't until we got home and I showed her the photo that she realized what my efforts were for." THE TOOLS: Canon 1DX, 70-–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/11, 1/800 second
Last May, Peacock was guiding three clients on a sea-kayaking tour of Antarctica's Neko Harbor when he snapped this shot of a 20-foot minke whale swimming under his boat. "I've never been that close to such a huge animal," says the Queensland, -Australia, photographer. "I thought it was going to flip one of us, and I started to wish I'd brought a waterproof camera." But after an hour of paddling beside the whale, Peacock relaxed. "We realized he was just as curious about us as we were about him." THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 24–105mm f/4 lens, ISO 200, f/9, 1/160 second
To get this shot of Brian Mosbaugh crossing a 110-foot slackline in Yosemite National Park, Roemer had to rappel off the top of the 1,090-foot Rostrum formation and lean out over the line. "The exposure was nauseating," says Roemer, of Bend, Oregon. "I don't slackline, but I've been shooting these guys for years, and they keep pushing the sport to new levels. It's not enough to just walk between cliffs anymore. Now the boldest guys are BASE-jumping from the middle of their lines." THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark II, 16–35mm f/3.2 lens, ISO 200, f/3.2, 1/400 second
Last April, Clifford had hoped to shoot Bend, Oregon, runner Max King's attempt to set a record on the 42.5-mile Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim traverse—a double crossing of the 5,250-foot canyon. Unfortunately, the Park Service wouldn't let him. "For safety reasons, they've been trying to keep people from running on the trails, and they were worried about publicity," says the Boulder, Colorado, photographer. King missed the record by almost an hour, but the next day Clifford talked him into a few action shots near the South Rim's Shoshone Point. "Max was pretty burned out from the day before, but there weren't any rangers around, and the backdrop was too good to pass up." THE TOOLS: Canon 1D Mark IV, 16–35mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/5, 1/1,500 second
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
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 70–200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/1,600 second.
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.