Climber And Kayaker Win Final Red Bull Illume Categories

Press Release / 06.12.2021
The shot of this bursting kayaker wins the Energy by Red Bull Photography category
The shot of this bursting kayaker wins the Energy by Red Bull Photography category / © Rod Hill / Red Bull Illume

Aerial shot of ice climber by Thomas Monsorno (Italy) and white water kayaker by Rod Hill (New Zealand) are the last two Red Bull Illume 2021 Category Winners to be unveiled.

One is an overhead image of an alpinist ‘climbing’ lake Baikal in Russia; the other is a shot of a kayaker bursting through a rapid in New Zealand. Today they become the final images to be crowned category winners in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. Thomas Monsorno wins the Innovation by EyeEm category for the climbing shot, while Rod Hill takes home Energy by Red Bull Photography.

They were both unveiled during a live broadcast on Instagram @redbullillume which saw Monsorno surprised at home with the trophy left outside his apartment while Hill, speaking from New Zealand, couldn’t believe his joy at winning. He was congratulated by Red Bull kayaker Rafa Ortiz who praised the shot.

Rod Hill’s image of kayaker River Mutton bursting through a rapid at Huka Falls, New Zealand wins the category Energy by Red Bull Photography. It’s a magical moment for the photographer. “This shot was not supposed to happen,” he says. “River Mutton was supposed to leave for work but decided on one last run. I had already packed my gear away by the time they walked back up from the take-out point. Once they decided being late to work was worth it, it was a mad rush back down the river with my camera. I didn't have time to get to my normal spot, so instead I tried this angle. All of a sudden, the light popped like I had never seen before. Straight away I knew this was going to work.”

Thomas Monsorno and his aerial shot of a climber win Innovation by EyeEm. © Thomas Monsorno / Red Bull Illume

It is the first time the amateur photographer, a chemistry teacher from Rotorua, New Zealand, has been selected in Red Bull Illume and it is a huge honor. Hill has been passionate about photography for many years on his skiing, surfing and climbing adventures and expeditions.

Innovation by EyeEm is the category for images that reveal a unique angle, a visual idea, a different format – something never seen before! Monsorno won it for his unique aerial shot looking down on athlete Dani Arnold ’climbing’ frozen Lake Baikal. A line of orange rope trailing from Arnold contrasts beautifully with the ice’s vertical cracks to create a beguiling image.

“In February 2020 we traveled to Siberia with Arnold for a challenging expedition above the deepest lake on earth, Lake Baikal,” recalls Monsorno. “Siberian winters present difficult and fascinating conditions. At this time of year, conditions are extreme, with temperatures as low as -35° Celsius. The first steps on the ice of the lake were impressive – to see clearly through the thick ice of the deepest lake in the world was an extraordinary and absolutely unforgettable experience.”

The top 256 images can also be viewed in the limited edition Red Bull Illume Photobook and all 11 category winners can be seen on Instagram (@redbullillume) and at www.

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