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Journey To Sicily, A Sport Climber's Paradise


My trip to Sicily’s sport-climbing paradise, the fabled limestone of San Vito Lo Capo, started with a massive disappointment—a reminder to not fly too high until you could—nothing major and nothing to do with mother Sicily, since it happened in the Rome airport, but it was aggravating because I had to relearn a universal truth first debated at length by Plato and Aristotle in their 4th century B.C. philosophical Academy. Never expect great things from airport pizza.

At the airport I had ordered a pizza margherita, the Toyota Camry of pizzas. Simple, reliable, time-tested. In my mind, I was already in Italy, and, to be fair, I was inside its borders and keen for the best food the Mediterranean country had to offer.

What was put before me two minutes later—yeah, it was microwaved—was a sad sponge, the cheese little squares of bland something-or-other and the sauce … a watery, tomato pasty wash.

Never expect great things from airport pizza. It is a truth as verifiable as the second law of thermodynamics, and yet, smuggled within this truth is another, secondary truth—one that didn’t immediately occur to me, the pizza thing led to it—a truth of climbing, and onsighting in particular: Don’t let your guard down until you clip the chains. Freud’s reality principle meets climbing.

Linh Nguyen romps Buon Natale (5.11b), at the Crown of Aragon sector. The last day of the trip

A high plateau rimmed by craggy limestone the color of burnt skin, dried orange peels and pan-fried cheddar soared above me. Bristly green grasses held where they could, between, below and above the crags—dig down only a few feet anywhere in this part of Sicily and it’s rock.

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