Human Interest

Mountain climber and activist Ilina Arsova arrives in Bolivia to inspire other women

La Paz, Jun 20 (EFE).- Macedonian mountain climber and activist Ilina Arsova, who has been to the summits of the world’s seven highest mountains, is visiting Bolivia for the first time to share her experiences and inspire other women who practice the sport, including the emblematic Bolivian “cholitas,” Andean Aymara women wearing traditional bowler hats and many-layered, colorful skirts.

Arsova is in La Paz, at an altitude of 3,625 meters (11,890 feet) above sea level for the “Global Sports Mentoring Program,” sponsored by the United States and aimed at selecting outstanding women in different countries who can “empower” other women in various areas.

“When I was small, there were not many women who could serve as role models, and when there are more of us women in sports we’ll always be an inspiration,” Arsova told EFE.

That is why she will share her experiences about having climbed the world’s tallest peaks, including Mt. Everest, rising 8,849 meters (29,025 feet) high, having been the first Macedonian woman to achieve that feat and now planning to tell Bolivian women to devote themselves to the exhilarating sport.

Arsova, who is also a visual artist, ecologist, skier, alpinist and former paraglider pilot, intends to scale Mt. Illimani, rising to 6,438 meters (21,117 feet) above sea level, and Mt. Huayna Potosi (6,088 meters, or 19,969 feet), accompanied by several women, including Bolivian cholita climbers.

She confessed that she is excited about meeting the Aymara women and participating in joint activities to “learn more” about their relationship with the mountains and Pachamama, or Mother Earth.

“I’m interested in knowing what the mountains mean to them, … in learning what motivates a strong indigenous woman to climb to the summit of the mountains,” Arsova said.

She emphasized that in La Paz, “people are prepared” to climb mountains due to the altitude at which they live, but she added that it’s always important to take other factors into account when preparing for the “cold,” extreme temperatures and undergoing “the physical and technical preparation” for the ascent.

Arsova participated in a press conference to make her presence and plans in Bolivia known after which she climbed down the facade of the Banco Ecofuturo building in southern La Paz to demonstrate her abilities wearing the traditional bowler hat worn by Aymara women in the Bolivian capital.

The 43-year-old has dedicated herself to mountain sports since 2006 and is one of the 70 women who have scaled the world’s seven highest mountains.

She was also the first Macedonian woman to get to the top of Ama Dablan in Nepal, at 6,856 meters (22,488 feet), and to the summit of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, at 6,962 meters (22,835 feet), among others.

EFE –/bp

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