A member of an expedition to Queen Maud Land, a remote section of Antarctica, hauls himself up the slender spire called Bertha's Tower.
Teetering on a metal ladder above a steep drop on Mount Everest. Enduring extreme cold and suffocating heat. Pushing through flooded caves and climbing up waterfalls.
Exploration isn't always the most comfortable of endeavors.
It takes immense bravery to set out into unknown parts of the world, facing dangerous and unpredictable challenges. But the call of the wild and the lure of the unknown has always fascinated humankind, and so the boldest of us go.
At National Geographic, we've been cheering on our explorers since 1888, listening with amazement as they bring back tales of peril and triumph. They also return with photos that leave you clutching the edge of your seat, and we've collected some of the most terrifying and awe-inspiring ones here.
In these photos from our archive, explorers scale rock faces, crawl through narrow cave passages, and dive into open waters. They face situations that would terrify the average person, and they handle them with grace—all for the sake of pushing exploration further.