These are the faces of pure adventure

Pain, victory, and defeat. These are images that show us raw adventure – the moment it happens.
Mike Horn posing for a frosty portrait.
Smile: Mike Horn is a living legend © Sebastian Devenish/Mike Horn
By Marc Schwarz

Singer Rod Stewart may have said it best: every picture tells us a story.

It's not easy to capture true emotion in an image – and it's even harder when it's happening 100m up a rock wall, or flying by you on a mountain bike. That's why images like these tell us so much about the athletes that are in them – and what they (or in one case, their feet) are feeling during that one, brief instant.

Ice beard
Explorer Mike Horn (who is also pictured above) drags a sled through a North Pole winter. A jolly sleigh ride, this isn't.

Mike Horn conquering the bad polar weather conditions.
North Pole in winter: The hardest ever © Borge Ousland/Mike Horn

Polar portrait
This is Martin Hartley self-portrait (no, we're not calling this a selfie) after an expedition on the brutal Arctic ocean.  

Self portrait ©

Gnar Wall
Renan Ozturk battles challenging conditions on a big wall during the Meru Expedition in Garwhal, India.

Renan Ozturk climbing at the Meru Expedition in Garwhal, India.
Renan Ozturk, getting up there © Jimmy Chin

Gasping for air
Holding your breath for as long Will Trubridge? Yeah, that's not easy. Will Trubridge surfaces near his support platform after a deep, deep freedive at Dean's Blue Hole near the Bahamas.

Trubridge surfaces during Suunto Vertical Blue
Breach! © Samo Vidic

Dirty hands
Stefan Glowacz grabs a hold of some dirt on Mt Roraima – one of the most difficult places on the planet to access.

Exploring the bottom of the wall of Mount Roraima ( 2723 m ) in Guyana, border between Venezuela and Brazil.
It's a dirty job... © Klaus Fengler

Strain and pain
Bernd Zangerl may be holding on with just his fingertips, but he's definitely using every muscle in his body to stay pinned on this wall.

Free climber Bernd Zangerl climbing in the Himalayas.
Cross over, and hang on © Ray Demski/Red Bull Content Pool

Running for it
On the last day of Nike 600k, a long distance relay race starting in São Paulo, a runner arrives in Rio de Janeiro.

A runner challenging six-hundred kilometers during the Nike 600k event.
Fear is not a motivator here, we swear © Marcelo Maragni

Six days of pain
The Brasil Ride bike race is a six-day mountain bike race in Chapada Diamantina. This is what you look like when – or if – you reach the finish line. 

A biker fighting through the pain barrier at the Brasil Ride bike race, a six-day slog through the heart of Brazil.
Feeling the burn... © Marcelo Maragni

A bike bath
Same race, Brasil – sometimes you just need to stop and take a bath. Even if it's not to get clean!

An exhausted mountain biker cools off his body in a river at the Brasil Ride bike race.
I'm just taking a dip... © Marcelo Maragni

Soaking up the pain
This is what your feet look like after the first 24 hours of the Ecomotion Pro, a five-day adventure race involving trekking, running, mountain bike, kayak, ropes, swimming, and caving segments.

Competitor’s feet after the first 24 hours of Ecomotion Pro, a 5 days adventure race at Serra do Espinhaço.
Those are well-soaked soles © Marcelo Maragni

Climbing Claudia
Mich Kemeter on the exposed route 'Claudia' (F8a) in the Verdon Gorges. This girl isn't easy!

Mich Kemeter climbing a F8a route in the Verdon Gorges, France, known as Cluadia'
Victory scream! © Marcelo Maragni

Elemental pain
Pierre Garant runs up to Planfait for the last take off of the paragliding stage of the Red Bull Elements in Talloires, France. It's more work to head up than get down!

Pierre Garant runs up to Planfait for the last take off of the paragliding stage of the Red Bull Elements in Talloires, France, on September 14th, 2013.
Don't worry, you don't have to hike down © Alexandre Buisse

The Wright stuff
Climber Cedar Wright is overhung and underhanded on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – one of North America's most famous climbing areas.

Climbing a hard route at Cedar Wright, Yosemite National Park, California.
Up and under © Jimmy Chin

Houlding on
Leo Houlding is belayed by Jason Pickles during their ongoing attempt to free climb a route on El Cap.

Leo Houlding climbing at El Cap.
Leo Houlding at El Cap © Jimmy Chin

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