RENAN OZTURK

ROCK CLIMBER

 

While people often draw parallels between artists and climbers, Renan is both, merging his passions into a single way of life. The stunning scenery of Renan’s climbing forays, ranging from North America to remote Himalayan peaks, serves as inspiration for his artwork, which is as breathtaking as his prowess on the rock. He is also a masterful storyteller, producing award winning expedition films that draw the viewer into some of the most difficult expeditions being undertaken today, including the story of his comeback from a fractured skull and spine to join his friends Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin as the first team to climb the Shark’s Fin on Meru in the Himalayas.

  • First ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on Meru in the Himalaya
  • First ascent of The Tooth Traverse across the Moose's Tooth Skyline, Denali National Park
  • Free ascent of El Cap via The FreeRider — 5.12+
  • First ascent of the SW Cat Ear Spire, Trango Towers, Pakistan Himalaya
  • First ascent of ‘The Beholder' on the Eye Tooth, Ruth Gorge, Denali National Park — Grade V 5.12
  • First ascent of the SW Buttress of Tawoche, Khumbu Himalaya, Nepal

 

 

Why live a life that's perceived as mad?

When is it OK to chase a dream down a dark rabbit hole of risk?  Especially when given the privilege and opportunity to live the quintessential comfortable “american dream”?

I grew up in an upper-middle class, East Coast, hard-working Jewish family who saved their pennies to give me the best opportunities they could. They wanted me to be happy and successful, and even my grandparents helped me pay for college in hopes that higher education would lead to those things. I still remember the look of disbelief on my grandparent's faces when after finishing college I gave away all of my belongings and wandered into Canyonlands Utah to pursue this inexplicable calling of climbing and art rather than the traditional career path of my science degree.

“It's what I have to do…,” I said to my grandparents with tears streaming down my face.  It was an unforgettable moment of madness and commitment. The unknown potential of a life unscripted tore at my soul, and I followed.  For the next 6 years I lived outdoors in national parks across the western US and Canada on the fringe of social norms. I climbed until my hands bled, and took rest days to let them heal by painting the landscapes around me.  Linking up with the climbing tribe, I ascended untouched granite and sandstone rock faces, created art with mixed media, and lived within those otherworldly landscapes in a immersive way I could never recreate. The early years were pure freedom and raw exploration.

A decade later, I find myself equally mad, but in a different way. My career still isn’t what I would call stable, but the professional relationships I have been lucky to build with influential brands like TNF and @natgeo have enabled me to share stories of these obscure worlds of art, climbing and photography with the greater public. I get to push my physical limits as an athlete in remote regions around the world, and take the creative risks of storytelling to bring those adventures to others.

I still talk to my grandparents often, who don’t have much time left.  At 93 years old my grandfather took up painting in the last 10 years, since about the time he watched me do the same. He does a lot of renditions of the photos I take from my most harrowing expeditions.  Maybe it's come full circle?  I think there is a palatable emotion between us where he now feels the madness of creative pursuits too, and we are connected through this embrace of life more fully lived.

#QuestionMadness