2017 was a year of destruction. Wildfires raged, volcanoes erupted and pollution swarmed entire cities in a fog of smoggy air.
But the beauty of the natural world didn’t escape unnoticed. Here are some of the most gorgeous photos of what happened to the Earth this year, as captured by Reuters photographers.
It was a record-setting year for climbers.
In the photo above, a solo climber journeys up a wall of ice in a northern pocket of the Czech Republic.
Other impressive accomplishments this year included a new record for the speediest climb: two men in Yosemite climbed 2,900 feet up “the Nose” in 2 hours and 19 minutes.
And daredevil free-solo climber Alex Honnold scrambled up “El Capitain” in the same park without any ropes or protective equipment, becoming the first person to complete the climb that way.
In Norway, a Czech climber finished the hardest single-rope-length climb in 20 exhilarating minutes, The Guardian reported.
In August, the sun, the moon, and the Earth all lined up for a rare celestial show.
People across the United States cheered and peered skyward as a total solar eclipse swept across the continent.
In September, charged particles from the sun hitting the Earth’s magnetic field produced quite a show in Finland.
The Northern Lights happen when high-energy particles shooting out from the sun come into contact with the Earth’s magnetic field and drift towards the poles.