Dominik Hernler: riding a meltwater stream inside a glacier | Photo: Markus Berger

Markus Berger won the "Playground by Whitewall" category at the 2021 Red Bull Illume.

The Austrian photographer took the prestigious trophy for his shot of wakeboarder Dominik Hernler riding a meltwater stream inside a glacier.

The "Playground by WhiteWall" category is all about celebrating the incredible locations and environments where athletes get to play.

Few are quite so remarkable or hostile as the glacier ice cave where Markus Berger struggled to capture Dominik Hernler in action.

It was so cold he struggled to keep his cameras - and himself - alive and functioning.

A Lucky Shot

"It was a crazy location," Markus Berger recalls.

"In terms of photography, this was an extreme challenge. We were facing intense cold, moisture, and also very cold water."

"After more than three hours in the water, I didn't feel anything below my waist, and one of my cameras failed as well."

"It was also a matter of luck if I got the camera to trigger at the right moment. It was such a relief to see the image pop up on my screen and get the shot."

"Right after this shot, the camera shut down and didn't work for three days!"

Like every category winner, Berger wins a copy of his winning image, printed and framed by WhiteWall, as well as a host of other prizes from Leica, Lenovo, SanDisk Professional, Black Diamond, Leica, and COOPH.