Umberto Silvestri tells us in a few lines how free climbing is changed from free self-expression to a sport discipline.
The dissemination across the world
Specific training methods, both physical and psychological, technical innovation, often imported from the United States and spread by the Californian climbers, that were training on El Capitan, a majestic rock formation up until that time regarded as impossible to climb, will make possible sensational performances, allowing to go beyond limits that at the time appeared insurmountable.
The comeback of the expansion bolt was crucial to this. In the last 40 years, such gear has allowed for the establishment of countless routes in hundreds and hundreds of crags and for the rapid take up of free climbing throughout the world.
At now, in fact, there are thousands of free climbing practitioners, both professional and amateur, so that free climbing has become Olympic sport, even if with some appropriate changes, and as it will appear in the forthcoming 2020 Olympics. National and international federations have even arisen, and the difficulties have been codified and standardized, the competitive events have been planned, with a lot of rules and directives, that, however, risk smothering this kind of activity, or, at least, altering its free spirit.
Since the “No Limits” years until today
There are plenty of "athletes" that have made free climbing history, and among them, to mention but a few, the Italian Maurizio Zanolla named “Manolo”, the American Dean Potter, the German Alexander Huber, the Austrian Beat Kammerlander and the Roman Alessandro “Jolly” Lamberti Bocconi, the French Alain Robert, named Spiderman, that climbs tall buildings and Catherine Destivelle, a true legend among the women. Some of them were part of the “No Limits Team” for years.
In recent years a new generation of climbers has come on to the scene. The outstanding ones are, probably, the Czech Adam Ondra, the Californian Chris Sharma, the German Alex Megos, the American Alex Honnold, practicing the “free solo climbing”, and even a number of extraordinary children like the Italian Laura Rogora, or the American Ashima Shiraishi.