On the far southern coast of Tasmania, jutting into one of the Earth’s most unpredictable and tempestuous seas, lies a point break so remote and isolated it’s reachable only by boat or an hour-long wilderness trek. This is Shipsterns Bluff, a cold and dangerously unpredictable break where waves start crashing at eight feet (two meters) but can top 20 feet (six meters). The waves’ characteristic steps trip even expert surfers–recently such as Kelly Slater and Ryan Hipwood (pictured)–and swing perilously close to rock fields, but the rush of lassoing the goliath of all waves beneath the coast’s dwarfing black cliffs keeps surfers returning. “The scariest part is seeing the wave and committing to catching it,” says local surfer Charles Ward. “But once committed, it all tends to feel surreal and I forget about everything except what’s right in front of me.”
“Eiger” translates to “ogre” in German, which seems a fitting moniker for the 13,000-foot beast of limestone, gneiss, shale, and ice that towers over the resort town of Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps. Its unpredictable weather, loose rock, and steep slopes have claimed the lives of more than 60 climbers, and yet its iconic 5,905-foot north face still proves irresistible. Now a new set of adventurers, wingsuit fliers, are not only climbing it but launching off it. Dean Potter (pictured) clinched the most heralded descent in 2009: After free soloing up the north face, he stepped into thin air for a four-mile, 9,000-vertical-foot flight that took two minutes and 50 seconds. The extreme sport is unquestionably one of the most dangerous on Earth, but perhaps that’s the allure: It’s the closest humans can get to true unadulterated flight.
“When I pop out into the open air and get that first look at how far away the ground is, time stops, it gets really quiet, I hear birds chirping, I drift around in my own thoughts—all in a nanosecond,” says professional skier Julian Carr of front flipping off a 60-foot cliff at Utah’s Alta ski resort. Carr loves launching himself off cliffs on skis so much that he holds two world records in the sport. And with more than 500 inches of annual snowfall, Alta is his favorite place on Earth for cliff jumping. “Light powder with a great base—Utah snow is the best! But don’t tell anyone.”
“Climbing, and life in general, in Brazil was totally mind-blowing—the relaxed culture, varied climbing objectives, and an inspiring landscape that combines jungle, mountain, and ocean,” says climber-artist Renan Ozturk of this trip to film a documentary about Brazilian friend who died—and to capture the adventures of her homeland. Here, Ozturk carefully makes his way across a highline at Gavea Stone, overlooking the glittering lights of Rio di Janeiro. ”This was a scary moment to capture on film because I had to mount the line in the dark over the void and then keep my balance in the strong wind as my good friend Tim popped a huge flash in my face. It was a great adventure.”
Traveling for more than 10,000 miles over four days, a team of all-star climbers became the first to scale the arid sandstone stacks and sheer walls of the Ennedi desert in Chad. Tackling 1,000-foot-high virgin ascents, Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold, Renan Ozturk, James Pearson, and a cast of intrepid adventurers made climbing history on this trip. Here Pearson ascends the more than 180-foot Arch of Bishekele.
“Nepal’s Upper Seti Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been,” says kayaker-filmmaker Josh Neilson of this exploratory expedition to run a rarely accessed steep section high up on Seti River. “You’d think your heart would be racing at the lip of a drop like this, but it’s just the opposite,” says Neilson. “The rushing water is silenced by concentration, and time almost stands still.”