Paolo Masa introduces
himself in this brief interview with
Sardiniaclimb: one of the first explorers
of vertical Sardinia, he has dedicated
the late ‘70s and the early ’80s to
exploring the rocks in Capo Testa,
which he is very fond of, with his
friend Jacopo Merizzi. A mountain
guide in the Central Alps, Paolo grew
up under Pizzo Badile, the paradise
of granite and he has often been the
refined and biting pen of the “sassisti
della Val di Mello”.
Today his hair has turned white (maybe
because of frequent frights?) and
he has come back to Sardinia to discover
its calcareous face, sometimes more
popular and commercial but nonetheless
rich in charm.
But maybe each experience should be
appreciated for what it is and not
what it could have been…
Men like Paolo are lucky, they have
so many seasons in their lives to
be wise enough to live the present
with joy and curiosity, with no need
to regret the past.
In spite of my eighteenth-century
anticlericalism, I live in a town
on the Central Alps called Chiesa
in Valmalenco in the Sondrio province,
at the feet of Pizzo Bernina and one
hour from Val di Mello.
Do you love
your homeland or would you want to
live somewhere else?
I obviously love my land, but I don’t
like the way it is intensly exploited
with several serpentine and slate
quarries and lately hydroelectric
power plants, which are a real calamity,
although disguised as clean energy.
How did you
I went to Sardinia for
the first time in 1978. I went to
Capo Testa with Jacopo Merizzi and
our girlfriends at that time, where
we climbed on the great granite structures.
The atmosphere at Capo Testa was then
more than alternative and we had a
Do you come
After 1978 I came back
to Sardinia in the early ‘80s, as
a mountain guide, and it was very
exciting because we had chosen the
Hotel Cervo as a bivvi and the Restaurant
“ Da Franco” in Palau to eat. I came
back to Sardinia to trek from Cala
Gonone to Baunei with Jacopo as a
correspondent for Airone (the article
was published in 1985), also for Airone
we let ourselves down in the Golgo
chasm and these were unforgettable
In the last ten years I have returned
to Sardinia once or twice each year,
for work or on vacation.
rocks have something special?
They are certainly special,
they express an ancient feeling, you
can feel they are healthy places,
a wild land but generous with the
most beautiful things you may look
for, such as scents, colours , taste,
human relationships and beautiful
places from an environmental point
of view. I personally believe that,
after a winter season on ski runs,
Sardinian rocks reconcile me with
What if there
wasn’t the sea in Sardinia?
Well, the sea is one of the main elements,
which cannot be given up. First of
all there is the charm of the island,
then if you climb inland you can always
feel the sea, with its benign influence
on the climate, food….
When I think of Sardinia, I cannot
forget the beautiful reef in Margheddie,
Cala Luna, Sisine…. Cala Goloritze,
truly a jewel, and the devastation
in the Iglesias area would not be
so charming if there weren’t Porto
Flavia, Pan di Zucchero……
like to live on the island?
It could be a great place o retire
impressed you the most?
A breathtaking place, in every sense,
is the Masua area, where natural beauty
cohabits with environmental damage,
this mixture makes me feel a sublime
anguish. There are dozens of places
I am fond of: the Valle di Lanaitto,
Supramonte di Baunei with the beautiful
Church dedicated to San Pietro, Ingurtosu
and Le Dune, Pentumas….
a route which is worth a trip to Sardinia
“Sale Grosso” at Monte Oddeu, I always
mention it as one of the family jewels.
And a route
that you would like to repeat?
I would like to repeat them all, that
would mean that I can always climb
in beautiful places. A few names Punta
Girardili or the route opened by Lecis
towards Cala Sisine.
There are no negative
places to mention.
you do if you lived on the island?
A bandit, or something
connected to tourism… maybe some day……
or the Mayor in Lula
Do you believe
that too many routes damage or increase
the value of an area?
As to the situation in
Sardinia, I would say no, I go there
to keep fit, to try new routes, to
relax, I look for employment elsewhere.
Do you think
that there is enough space for everybody
on Sardinian rocks?
I like long routes, and
I would like to have more of these
available, where you must be able
to fasten yourself with a few nuts
or friends, this is why I mentioned
the route Sale Grosso as a beautiful
Unfortunately I see that long routes
are getting harder and harder, therefore
I must be satisfied with that.
Just a small provocation: three days
ago I came back from Yosemite where
I climbed the Salathe, with a client
and a young guide who here reaches
grade 8a, very far from my usual performances.
On that enormous wall, where you find
no protection, except on belas, our
levels were more or less the same.
I then ask myself: why do we always
have to run after physical performances
and forget the mental ones? Why not
consider a balance between the two
different parts also on Sardinian
I would like to end this pleasant
virtual chat indicating a short report
I wrote for my friend Jacopo Merizzi’s
titled Easy Sardinia. At last an appeal
to those climbing in the Siniscola
area. Siniscola is the nearest palce
where I can climb, since I have a
house in San Teodoro, the rock is
nice but there are few developped
areas comparing to the potential.
Years ago I heard a local climber
talk about the possibility of developping
a wide area in the Siniscola territory,
I would like to have more information