The Best Adventure Photography: Exposure 2016

Photo: Jen Judge

Last January, Judge spent ten days in Sedona, Arizona, with her husband, Outside contributing editor Aaron Gulley, who helped test dozens of mountain and road bikes for the summer Buyer’s Guide (on newsstands now.) “Sedona sees snow only once or twice a year, and to have the light come out at the golden hour was really rare,” says the photographer, who lives in Santa Fe. “We started running uphill as soon as we got there. I knew it was going to be the most phenomenal shot ever, and it was.”

THE TOOLS: Canon EOS 5DS, 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/320 second

Photo: Klaus Thymann

During a weeklong trip to Mexico last March, Thymann, who lives in London, drove half an hour north of Tulum to explore a few of the water-filled sinkholes—called denotes–that dot the Yucatán Peninsula. “This one was really beautiful, and since it’s so difficult to find, few people make the effort to visit it,” Thymann says, describing the subterranean water where he captured freediver Jorge Robles Brain. “That stark curtain of light ends and makes it look like he’s reaching bottom. But really his journey has just started.”

THE TOOLS: Canon Mark III, 17-4006 f/4 lens, ISO 800, f/5, 1/50 second

Photo: Bo Bridges
Photo: Chris Burkard

"Surrounded by thousand-foot peaks on both sides, you feel like you're at the gates of some unearthly place," says photographer Chris Burkard.

Though he'd planned to spend only two nights at a hut in southeast Denali National Park last October, bad weather forced him to extend his stay to four. "These were gnarly storms," says Burkard, of San Luis Obispo, California, who was in Denali to explore the Ruth Glacier on skis and snowshoes. Then the skies cleared, offering a view by bush plane of black granite moraines forming streaks along the glacier's tongue.

THE TOOLS: Sony Alpha a7R II, 24-70mm f/4 lens, ISO 200, f/5, 1/1,250 second

Photo: Taylor Glenn

"We realized we could have a crazy adventure in our own backyard and see pristine wilderness that very few people have seen in the wintertime," says Jackson, Wyoming, photograhper Taylor Glenn. After Glenn and wildlife biologist Taylor Phillips brainstormed travel ideas, the two decided to try a 32-mile cross-country ski tour from Old Faithful to Yellowstone's Bechler Ranger Station last February. In addition to crossings like the Ferris Fork, the six-day journey involved dragging a sled through deep, unpacked snow, fully loaded. "It was a battle," Glenn says, "but it was worth it."

THE TOOLS: Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/3,200 second

Photo: Kyle Sparks
Photo: Mike Schirf

Marcus Caston was almost certainly the first person of the season to ski the fjords in Nordurfjördur, Iceland, where he and Schirf traveled last April. “The roads were just being cleared up,” says Schirf. “Marcus spotted this line and said, ‘I want to jump off that corner.’” Schirf, who lives in Salt Lake City, followed Caston to the top of a 1,500-foot run, wearing crampons on the climb to keep his footing in the icy spring conditions. “I was a little nervous, but Marcus hit it like a true pro. It’s definitely my favorite shot of the trip.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 1D X, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1,250 second

Photo: Cheyne Lempe

Six months out of the year, 24-year-old Lempe lives in Yosemite Valley, California, where he was eager to take a group of friends to a favorite spot behind Middle Cathedral Rock. There he captured Colin Harkins slack lining above a pool along Bridalveil Creek. “It’s one of Yosemite’s hidden gems,” says Lempe, who pulled himself across a rope he’d tied to two giant pine trees, 50 feet above the pool, after leading the group on a three-hour hike. “They’d started wondering aloud if it was worth it, but as soon as we got there they were totally stoked.”

THE TOOLS: Sony A7, Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 lens, ISO 500, f/8, 1/400 second

Photo: Garrett Grove
Photo: Dan Medhurst

Last September, Medhurst visited Kazakhstan’s remote Charyn National Park, near the border with China and Kyrgyzstan, with writer Tristan Kennedy. Over three days mountain-biking along the park’s 700-foot cliffs, they saw almost no one, apart from the driver of the 4x4 that took them to the top of Charyn Canyon, where the photographer captured Kennedy and his brother, Rowan. “It was important to show how massive and empty the place was,” says Medhurst, who lives in London. “There was nobody there but us.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 1D X, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/2,000 second

Photo: John Haynes

Haynes, an avid cyclist from Minneapolis, saw the city in a new light after a wrist injury forced him to switch to running. “On a bike, you’d fly right past these things,” the 32-year-old photographer said of this staircase near the University of Minnesota, where he shot fellow runner Brigette Gay last January. Despite the 20-degree weather, Haynes insists it was the perfect time to be outside. “We were all about it,” he says. “Finally, we know where there’s a good set of stairs to run.”

THE TOOLS: Nikon D810, 50mm f/1.4 lens, ISO 400, f/4, 1/500 second

Photo: Jasper Gibson

Last November, Gibson captured professional kayaker Ben Marr running a 70-foot waterfall on the Jalacingo River in Veracruz, Mexico. It wasn’t an easy place to reach—the two had to bushwhack throughout the jungle for a mile and a half. “To get into position, I climbed down a steep canyon wall full of gnarly trees and wiggled my way through the mud,” says Gibson, 23, who paid for the five-week trip with money he’d earned as a wild land firefighter in White Salmon, Washington. “Getting there was a struggle, but the shot came easy.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 6D, 16-35mm f/2.8 L II lens, ISO 1,250, f/3.5, 1/1,000 second

Photo: Jim Martinello

It took more than four hours of skinning through rock gardens and unpacked snow for Martinello to reach the remote cliffs of North Joffre Creek, in southwest British Columbia. There he captured professional climber Tim Emmett on a first ascent of a 210-foot route, during Emmett’s first visit to the area. “When you get a cold spell, you want to go out and ice-climb, but the conditions made it a lot more challenging,” says the photographer, who lives in nearby Squamish. “It was definitely a day we had to earn.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 7D, 24-105mm f/4 lens, ISO 320, f/9, 1/320 second

Photo: Morgan Maassen
Photo: Didier Ciambra

Ciambra came upon the 2016 America’s Landsailing Cup by accident last March as he was driving past the dry bed of Ivanpah Lake, in California’s Mojave Desert. “As soon as I understood what was going on, I drove home to Las Vegas and picked up my ten-year-old son,” says Ciambra, who grew up in India. They spent the next two days watching nearly 100 amateur competitors reach speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. “I have a passion for Formula One racing, and this, too, is an incredibly elegant sport to watch.”

THE TOOLS: Nikon D7200, 12–24mm f/4 lens, ISO 100, f/5, 1/125 second

Photo: Ryan Moss

One day last September, the swells were hitting the 65-foot cliff above southeast Oahu’s Spitting Cave at 
a near perfect 90-degree angle, creating an especially intense exchange of water and air. “You’d see the entire cave sucked dry, then it would explode out,” says Moss, who stood halfway down the face to capture his friend, professional cliff diver Dan Worden, doing a gainer flip. Worden had to time his dives perfectly to avoid getting pulled into the cave. “There are consequences, as you can imagine,” says Moss, who splits his time between Hawaii and California, “but Dan is at peace with what he’s doing.”

Mark III, 24mm f/1.4L lens, ISO 400, 
f/5, 1/2,500 second

Photo: Kevin Faingnaert
Photo: Cherise Tuttle

Before launching from a 10,500-
foot ridge on Mardi Himal, in Nepal’s Annapurna Range, California photographer Cody Tuttle handed the camera to his wife, Cherise. On the anniversary of the country’s devastating earthquake, the two planned to paraglide on a thermal updraft that would carry them to 15,000 feet, and Cherise wanted to capture Cody near Fishtail, considered a sacred peak and therefore inaccessible to climbers. “Getting into position was tricky, but I knew it would be spectacular up there,” Cherise says. “Then all it really took was a gust of rising air.”

THE TOOLS: Sony 17Rii, Zeiss 
24–70mm f/4 lens, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/1,600 second

Photo: Alex Manelis

At peak flows, 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls could fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in a minute. But last October, following several months when California saw little or no rain, the lip was so dry that Manelis was able to photograph Cheyne Lempe—a climber who set a record on El Capitan’s Salathé Wall in 2013—walking across it. “The average viewer is in the valley looking up at the falls and the Lost Arrow Spire nearby,” says Manelis, who regularly drives to Yosemite National Park from his home in Palo Alto. “But from up there, it’s 
a totally different perspective.”

16–35mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 100, 
f/4.5, 1/90 second

Photo: Krystle Wright

During a three-week trip to Tasmania last December, Wright was part of the first group to set up a highline across a 164-foot-wide gap in Cape Pillar, home to the tallest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere. “This part of Tasmania is insanely beautiful,” says the Queensland photographer, who trekked a total of 30 miles to rig the line, then went up to a nearby ridge to shoot professional highliner Ryan Robinson. “I felt like I wanted to make it look like he was walking in midair. A lot of the time, that’s what highlining feels like.”

THE TOOLS: Canon EOS 5DS R, 24–70mm f/2.8 
L II lens, ISO 500, f/7.1, 
1/400 second

Photo: Theo Allofs
Photo: Ian Bassingthwaighte

At 650 feet high and almost 500 feet 
wide, the initial cavern in central Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong was pronounced the largest on earth when Britain’s Adam Spillane and his team surveyed it in 2009. In May, Bassingthwaighte captured Spillane near a spot where the roof had collapsed. “Besides the high contrast between light and dark, what makes Hang Son Doong so complicated to photograph is that the main passages 
actually have their own internal weather 
and wind,” says the photographer, who 
lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan. “Everything about the place is staggering.”

THE TOOLS: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 
Sigma 12–24mm f/4.5 lens, ISO 200, 
f/5.6, 1/20 second

Photo: Jeff Diener

Last October, Diener dropped into Sedona, Arizona, to join pro mountain bikers Simon Bosman and Josh Langdon in Coconino National Forest. After an hourlong climb at sunrise, the group took turns riding a steep, 200-foot downhill run off the sandstone White Line Trail. “It takes some truly precise bike handling, and any mistake would have serious consequences,” says Diener, who splits his time between Boulder, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “Simon was on his game. 
He pulled it off like it was 
a walk in the park.”

THE TOOLS: Nikon D300S, 28–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/640 second

As the banks of the Ottawa River flooded with snowmelt last April near his home in Eganville, Ontario, Jackson knew it was time to capture whitewater heavyweight Ben Marr at work.“The river gets serious this time of year,” Jackson says. “It’s icy, it’s filled with logs, and it has the biggest waves in the world.” 
To capture Marr perform
ing a Sasquatch at the bottom of a 12-footer that locals call the Buseater, Jackson stood on an island in the river. “This is Ben’s home wave,” Jackson says. “He’s in his happy place.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 5DSR, Sigma 70–200 f/2.8 lens, ISO 160, f/2.8, 1/64,000 second

Photo: Adam Clark
Photo: Angela Jimenez

Pengxue Su, age 87, competing at the 2015 World Masters Athletics Championships 
in Lyon, France.

Photo: Nick Greece

Last September, Greece flew a powered paraglider over the salt flats around Iran’s Maharlu Lake, a body of water with colorful tendrils of algae that reminded him of his home near Salt Lake City. “A lot of things had to come together for a shot like this,” says the photographer, who followed the lead of Soheil Barikani, an Iranian glider, while the two were in the air. “When I looked through the viewfinder, I knew I’d made it to the right place at the right time with the right people.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 5D Mark III, 24–105mm f/4 lens, ISO 400, f/4, 1/1,250 second

Photo: Scott Markewitz

When a wildfire scorched the Bald Mountain Ski Area, near Sun Valley, Idaho, it transformed the mountain’s back side from thick forest to an open maze of limbless black poles. After driving there in February 2015 from his home in Salt Lake City, Markewitz decided that it would be almost as fun to photograph as it is to ski. “I love the black lines created by the trees, and the fact that skier Jessica Wolcott’s tracks are parallel to the ones above her,” says the photographer. “This is the kind of ­amazing shot you can get only by leaning out of a helicopter.”

THE TOOLS: Nikon D4, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 400, f/11, 1/1,000 second

Photo: Scott Serfas

After working together on the 2011 snow­boarding movie The Art of Flight, Serfas spent the next three years with the crew of The Fourth Phase, a new film that documents the transpacific travels of snowboarder Travis Rice. One of Serfas’s favor­-ite shots came in the Tordrillo Mountains, near Anchorage, Alaska, which the crew accessed by helicopter in April 2014. “It was really cool that the snow was so deep and that Rice was able to drag that plume off the edge,” says the Whistler, British Columbia, photographer. “Conditions weren’t in our favor that year, so to do a jump that worked out that beautifully was huge.”

THE TOOLS: Canon 1DX, 24–70mm f/2.8 lens, ISO 200, f/8, 1/1,000 second

Photo: Kristi Odom
Photo: Ryan Creary

St Raymond, Quebec

Photo: Michael Sakas