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Paolo Masa

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.

Paolo Masa
Where do you live?
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 discover Sardinia?
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 great time.

Do you come back often?
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 experiences.
In the last ten years I have returned to Sardinia once or twice each year, for work or on vacation.

Do Sardinian 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 climbing.

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……

Would you like to live on the island?
It could be a great place o retire one day.

Which place 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….

Is there a route which is worth a trip to Sardinia alone?
“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.

Where wouldn’t you return?
There are no negative places to mention.

What would 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 one.
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 rocks?

I would like to end this pleasant virtual chat indicating a short report I wrote for my friend Jacopo Merizzi’s site 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 on that.