Mountaineering as need arises long ago, even before the Romans, but, as a concept, originated around 1700 also thanks to the age of Enlightenment, which transformed the mountains into a place of scientific research, hence the shift to individual recreational activity was easy.
Climbing is a younger discipline, arrived in Europe around the 70s when the new of free climbing came from California. In those years the scottish Mike Kosterlitz was doing one of his masterpieces by overcoming the central cliff of the Via dei Tetti a Zeta on the eastern wall of Rocca Provenzale (CN) and from that moment the history of ascents changed.
In this context of births the peak of Gran Paradiso was captured on September the 4th 1860, by some British climbers and more than 100 years afterwards the Orco Valley became the favourite playground of a group of climbers supporters of a cultural renewal which helped to give new impetus to the mountaineering world proposing the groundwork for the free climbing birth: il Nuovo Mattino. Gian Piero Motti, Alessandro Gogna and Andrea Gobetti have contributed with their writings to build myth and legend of the attractions of Gran Paradiso, so as Gian Carlo Grassi, Ugo Manera, Gabriele Beuchod, Marco Bernardi, Manlio Motto and so many others! The same Kosterlitz, whose name in Ceresole Reale is linked to the homonym rock, talks about the Gran Paradiso this way: "It was amazing, just amazing. There was the continuous succession of granite walls, one more beautiful and larger than the other, where everything was still to be done. It was like discovering a Yosemite behind the door. For me, accustomed to small walls of Wales and Derbyshire, exploited till the last foothold, it was heaven on earth. There was more virgin rock just on Caporal then on all Snowdonia. We only had to decide where to go, it was absolutely incredible that there were still places like that. "
Source: interview of Gianni Battimelli to Mike Kosterlitz 28/01/2011 (italian)
The Californian myth of the 70s was the wall of El Capitan, a granite rock of 900 meters located inside the Yosemite Valley National Park in California. The Sergent, just above Noasca in Orco Valley gives rise to the little Italian California. This is not a random location because the territory of Gran Paradiso National Park, for its genesis, has helped to create a unique style of climbing in the Alps and very close to the great United States.
In the 90 's, a modern period begins with the rise of climbing as a sport, and, as a result, the birth of high difficulty routes, “spit” protected (literally "spit" because of the small size of this piece).
After the emergence of free climbing far up in the early 2000s, there is a return to traditional, applying a more radical ethic, in line with the Anglo-Saxon model: few nails and no spit, but only movable protections. Climbing also doesn't want to leave marks but even simple deeds can bother.