My Interview at Climbing Magazine 

Written by: Bennett BarthelemyRelease Date: October 2019

The Accursed Alps

Through my climbing in the Himalayas [Ibrahimi has climbed five 8,000-meter peaks] and elsewhere, my idea is also to promote the Balkans—my home and my passion. Many people have almost no information about this region even though we are in Europe and have some of the best hiking, climbing, kayaking, and cycling. Some people don’t even know where we are on the map. Some others think there is still a war in the Balkans, even though this is one of the safest places in the world. My goal is to help change these unfortunate misconceptions. I do a lot of hiking, climbing, bouldering, and trail running in Valbona. I train through the valleys and mountaintops that connect Valbona and Theth national parks. The northern part of Albania is a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors. It has all that I need to prepare for expeditions to the Himalayas. My passion comes from growing up in the mountains and spending time in the place—the outdoors—that brings me peace. That peace and the desire to explore new and familiar places keep me going. They sustain my passion. People who love the mountains and the beautiful people who inhabit them know this without having to make sense of it. It is the same as breathing. The Balkans are still wild, and visitors—and locals— feel that immediately. This is what keeps people coming here and makes them fall in love with the region. This wildness is what makes it precious, but also what makes it so vulnerable.

CONSERVATION GOALS: As a champion for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Uta focuses on environment and gender equality in the Balkans.