We’ve had tons of phenomenal images come across our desks over the last 365 days — so many we couldn’t even count them all. So when it came down to choosing the top shots, there was quite a bit of hemming and hawing, especially since the photo contest to end all photo contests is Red Bull Illume. But after countless hours of scrutiny, we finally made our decision. So without further adieu, we present to you the best adventure images of 2016.
Ryan Sandes running the ridgeline in Chamonix
Why it's our favorite: If this image doesn't make you want to throw on your running shoes and get lost in the wild like Sandes, well, maybe you should just stare at it for a few minutes. Everything about this moment, from the leap to the mountains, is just pure perfection.
Jason Paul's grand entrance into a jet plane
Why it's our favorite: Pretty sure if we tried to leap into a plane we'd end up like a bug splattered on the window. Paul, on the other hand, makes it look easy. And Jaanus Ree's capture of this moment is pretty rad too.
Swing high, swing low
Why it's our favorite: Where do you even begin ranting about the MegaSwing? For starters, it was an incredible project. But then once you start thinking about it, it's pretty crazy that this image could even be possible. But, hey, it's 2016 and anything is possible these days.
Don't look down ...
Why it's our favorite: From Red Bull TV's hit show, Urbex, this killer POV is a jaw-dropper and a heart-stopper. One look at this incredible shot and you'll be gripping your seat without even realizing it.
Adam Stern and a sand waterfall
Why it's our favorite: Stern is an incredible diver, and the sheer beauty of the underwater sandfall commands attention. "I’ve never seen this anywhere else in the world," underwater filmmaker (and photographer) Daan Verhoeven said.
Flying into the sun with your friends
Why it's our favorite: Dan Vojtěch's stunning image of the Red Bull Flying Bulls stops you in your tracks. Not only is it a head-turner, but it is probably one of the coolest flight photos you'll ever see.
This chick rocks
Sasha DiGiulian had quite the year. She graduated from Columbia University and also put herself in some unreal locations, including this one in Thailand. If this photo doesn't make you want to start climbing yourself, it should at least give you some incredible vertigo.
It's all about the wave
Why it's our favorite: We know Jaws gets big. Scary big. But this wave, with that little, itty-bitty windsurfer, is shockingly enormous. What sets this image above the rest is that you can pretty much hear the deafening noise of the freight train closing in on the windsurfer.
Stefan Glowacz just keeps going ... and going ...
Why it's our favorite: Stephen Glowacz's journey to Baffin Island was not just about the destination, it was also about the adventure of getting there. Carrying over 200 pounds on sleds across melting and shifting sea ice on Baffin Island, it took Glowacz and his crew 28 days to complete their mission.
High fives while watching lava
Why it's our favorite: There's nothing more awesome than watching something epic with your closest bros, especially following a serious exploration into a volcano. It's moments like these that make you realize just how tiny you are compared to the rest of Earth.
Standing on the edge of the world
Why it's our favorite: David Lama is pretty well known for pushing limits and offering the world insane POV views of his alpine ascents But his latest climb, together with Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel is one for the books. And so is this shot.
Just a casual kite with your closest friends
Why it's our favorite: 333 riders battled it out to be number one in this year's Ragnarok over Norway's snowy hills. With a combination of crazy winds, a wicked, long course and a top-secret location, you saw some pretty cool images come through the wire, including this one from Daniel Tengs. We love it because it shows the sheer insanity of the race.
"The Kid" knows a thing or two about slacking
Why it's our favorite: There's nothing like a good slackline world record, but slacklining at altitude generally means beautiful images too. The photo really puts the whole record into perspective.
We all love a good storm
Why it's our favorite: An image like this doesn't come across your desk often — actually, ever. That's because jump zones usually shut down with the threat of a storm. But Sean MacCormac clearly loves to live on the edge (of a good lightning storm) and decided to charge it anyways.
3 ... 2 ... 1 ... 2017!
Why it's our favorite: There's no better way to start 2017 than with a bang ... or a boat that also doubles as a rocket ship. More so, there's nothing like being launched off the back of said rocket ship boat at mach speed. Thankfully, Ricardo Pinto captured that beautiful moment perfectly.