We begin our look at National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year with Renan Ozturk. I have not met Renan, other than to shake his hand at his movie premiere in Telluride last year, but I am a big fan. Not only does he climb with the best, but his filmmaking skills rock. Haunting, evocative, intensely personal glimpses into the expeditions he and buddies go on.
If you can, take a look at the film he and Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker made about their Return to Meru (also known as “The Shark’s Fin” for its crazy, bladed ascent into Himalayan mythology). Not only did these guys return after a grueling defeat just short of the summit, but Renan signed up for the return only six months after a near fatal skiing accident that fractured his neck, and left him almost immobilized. So we get two big comebacks in his movie. The team’s. And his. I can’t tell you which was more powerful. Both were huge. And are probably a good part of why Renan was nominated this year.
But to think of Renan as just a mountain climber, even a great one, is to miss the point of his chops as an artist. His awesome ability to translate shooting, climbing, painting into a visceral experience for the rest of us. Life – as Renan – isn’t necessarily heroic. But it’s always engaging.
Not to be overlooked, Renan’s paintings are wildly expressive. Part sherpa, part Van Gogh, awesome filmmaker and (apparently) unstoppable climber. What else could you want in an Adventurer of the Year?