Eye Candy: The Best Adventure Photos of 2016

From lava flows to mountain peaks, here's our most thrilling images from the past year.
By Corinna Halloran & Lukas Pilz

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

Ryan Sandes runs with dramatic mountais behind him.
Ryan Sandes runs in the mountains of Chamonix © Kelvin Trautman/Red Bull Content Pool

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

Forerunner Jason Paul makes a huge leap into an airliner at Munich Airport, Germany whilst filming his movie Last Call For Mr Paul
Jason Paul leaps into a plane © Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

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

Marco Fuerst rides the Red Bull Megaswing over the fields of Austria.
Marco Fuerst rides the Red Bull Megaswing © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool

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 ...

Looking down on a city and a man's white sneakers
Vadim Makhorov looks down on a city from a crane © KEO FILMS / Red Bull Content Pool

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

Adam Stern dives with sandfall at Dean's Blue Hole
Adam Stern swims up with the sandfall © Daan Verhoeven

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

The Flying Bulls score a sunrise sesh
Sunset or sunrise? © Dan Vojtěch

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 climbs a challenging 5.12c over water in Thailand.
Sasha DiGiulian climbing Lord of the Thais a 5.12c © Cameron Maier/Red Bull Content Pool

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

Jason Polakow goes down the line at Jaws
The view from inside the wave © Pierre Bouras

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 ...

Two men pull sleds across ice
Stefan Glowacz pulls his sled across the ice © Klaus Fengler

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

The team watches lava explode on Benbow Volcano
The team watches lava explode on Benbow Volcano © Ulla Lohmann

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

Hansjörg Auer and Alex Blümel climb one of the Himalayas unsolved puzzles: Annapurna III
POV shot from the insane Annapurna III attempt © David Lama/Red Bull Content Pool

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

The 333 competitors at this year's Red Bull Ragnarok were ready for the snowkite battle of their life.
The Ragnarok Mayhem © Daniel Tengs/Red Bull Content Pool

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

A man walks across a slackline in the mountains
Pablo ‘The Kid’ Signoret hits record-breaking form © Pierre Chauffour

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

MacCormac dives into the clouds © Craig O'Brien / Red Bull Content Pool

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!

Emirates Team New Zealand nearly capsizes in Chicago, IL during practice for the ACWS.
Sailors get launched off Emirates Team New Zealand © Ricardo Pinto/Americas Cup/Red Bull Content Pool

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.

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