Almost-Dead to the Top of the Shark’s Fin in a Year: Renan Ozturk [Interview]
Renan Ozturk. Climber, artist, filmmaker, dirtbag, and ground-up success story. 2011 was a year of high highs and low lows for Ozturk, a longtime AAC Member and The North Face Team Member. Not only did he suffer from a near fatal ski accident while on location in the Tetons, he also capped months of recovery with the first ascent on Meru Sharks Fin. Here’s a brief recap:
Pete Takeda: In 2011, you were nearly killed, created award-winning climbing media, worked like a fiend, and climbed one of the most coveted objectives in the world. Can you tell us what that was like?
Renan Ozturk: Yeah, it was a really intense year going from a complete state of helplessness after the big accident (two broken vertebrae in my neck, fractured skull, severed vertebral artery) to taking part in a very intense and demanding Himalayan expedition. On top of that, I was working super hard on creative projects for Camp 4 Collective, trying to do justice to climbing stories from the remote desert of Chad, Africa, to a big junk-show expedition up Denali. Some of year end statistics would be pretty funny. Percentage of the year I was on pain killers: 20%; average amount of sleep a night: four hours: difference from my hardest free climbing red-point to alpine climbing red-point—barely climbing 5.10 in the gym and then our success on the high-altitude big-wall of Meru’s Shark Fin (Ed. Note: The self-effacing Ozturk was seen climbing 5.11 on his second day back in the gym). In the end I was just took a one day at a time approach and was able to still be productive despite all the challenges.
PT: How have your core values been shaped?
RO: I think more than anything my core valued are shaped by the six years I spent living on the road (without a car) climbing in iconic areas like Indian Creek, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Squamish. Those days made me realize the importance of living simply, having community, and developing the power of creative expression. I was diving out of dumpsters for food, doing art on recycled cardboard and climbing with friends in beautiful places everyday. Although I’m by no means living that scrappy or free anymore here in Boulder Colorado, I think that time helped instill a strong motivation to climb, produce art and share stories with our community. That will always stick with me. Looking back on those ‘dirtbag days’ really makes me appreciate all the little things that are easy to take for granted.
Those days made me realize the importance of living simply, having community, and developing the power of creative expression.
Here’s “Living the Dream” a short that kinda shows my funny transition from life on the road to the domestic scene here in Boulder.
PT: Your art and words have been featured in support of the AAC. How long have you been a member and supporter? Why?
RO: I’ve been a member/supporter of the AAC since I started climbing at the end of high-school. Ever since I got my hands on my first AAJ the AAC has always been the source of inspiration and represented the true heart of exploration and adventure. In more recent years the global rescue support that comes with being a member has been a big plus and the amazing grant program has allowed me to follow some of my dreams that would have otherwise been out of reach.
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