Sterling Athletes Team
Sponosors: Sterling Rope, North Face, SCARPA, Grooveegear
Name: Nick Martino
Home State: Kansas
I was fortunate enough to spend much of 2008 climbing overseas. Having spent the winter traveling through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China with no real epic, I flew to South Africa in May. I was about to find out the hard way exactly how valuable blank pages in your passport can be. Upon arrival in Johannesburg, I was turned back at customs, my passport offering only one remaining blank page. For future reference, one requires TWO blank pages to be allowed into South Africa. I was immediately escorted back to the airplane on which I had just arrived, which was boarding for the nineteen hour return flight to Atlanta.
In a panic, I decided the appropriate thing to do would be to refuse to get onto the airplane. Throwing a bit of a fit, I stood my ground, and eventually a sympathetic airport employee offered to help me buy a ticket to Botswana, where it was assumed I could obtain more pages for my passport and re-enter South Africa, successfully this time.
After a fretful night in the Jo-burg airport, I flew to Gabarone, Botswana first thing in the morning. Mid-flight I began chatting with the businessman sitting beside me, wondering aloud if Botswana would allow me entrance with my lack of stamp space. Now if I've learned one thing in my life, it's that one should ALWAYS talk to wealthy- looking businessmen on airplanes. Upon arrival in Gabarone, his associate escorted me to their car, took me to her parent's house, and had passport pages waiting at the embassy for easy pick-up.
Her parents, of course, live next to the president; her father is Chief Justice of the country. Immediately I am fed, my flight back is booked, and my passport is filled with ten bright, blank new pages. The next morning, my arms full of the Botswana gifts my new friends bought for me, I flew back to South Africa, promising my new Botswana family that I would return soon.
Six weeks later, as the rain soaked the boulders in Rocklands, I returned to Gabarone. Equipped with a borrowed 4WD vehicle, camping supplies, food, and gas for a week (all provided by my Botswana family), my girlfriend and I drove 500 miles off road through the African brush, marking one of the most unbelievable adventures of my life.
The rock climbing in South Africa was absolutely incredible. The opportunity to pair the time bouldering with an adventure into REAL Africa; elephants, lions, giraffes, straw huts, flooded roads, local people; made the trip even more unforgettable. I think too often we are so inspired by the climbing in a new location that we don't necessarily take the time to fully experience its people, culture, and natural beauty. In the end, a little bit of extra effort, intentional or not, can result in an amazing new experience.
What is your favorite type(s) of music?
Music with a positive message inspires me the most.
Other sports/activities you like to do (other than climbing)?
watercolor, yoga, running, skateboarding.
What do you feel is your best accomplishment (other than climbing)?
11 years of total sobriety.
What do you feel is your best accomplishment in climbing?
Maybe being the first kid from Kansas to free El Cap. Probably just making it out of Kansas.
What is your favorite beverage?
Please share your favorite personal quote.
"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." - Howard Zinn