Today, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Ilina Arsova, an artist, skier, and mountaineer, best known as the first Macedonian woman to climb the top of Mount Everest.

Born on July 31, 1982, in Skopje, Ilina Arsova completed her primary and secondary education in Skopje, after which she graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in 2005. She then became a member of the Association of Fine Artists of Macedonia.

For quite a while, she has been an advocate to raise environmental awareness among the people. Ilina represents the polluting habits and human interventions on nature through her art, having over ten solo exhibitions in Macedonia and abroad. She also participates in prominent group exhibitions and biennials.

Ilina Arsova devoted herself to mountain sports, including mountaineering, alpinism, freeskiing, flying, rock climbing, and mountain biking, more seriously in 2006. Since then, she has achieved great success in the niche.

Ilina climbed the Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe (4,810 meters) that same year as part of the Red Cross emergency and mountain rescue team. Taking things further, she also climbed five of the seven highest peaks, on five different continents, until 2016. Now, she is one of the 70 women worldwide that has climbed the seven highest peaks on all seven continents.

She is an inspirational figure in our country, in the Balkans, and the world. As this is only a brief introduction to her life and achievements, let’s see what Ilina has to say, as I am eager to hear her inspirational story.

1. Who Is Ilina Arsova?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Hello Ilina. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. It gives me great pleasure to get to know a successful and motivated individual like you. So, to start, I’d love to ask you, who is Ilina Arsova? Would you like to share the most important aspects of your life journey? In other words, what made you what you are today?

Ilina Arsova

A: Hello Tose, and thank you for having me. The sports I have been practicing since I was a child have strengthened me physically and mentally to be determined and persistent in achieving my goals. Education and life experiences have made me versatile and flexible, thus able to handle any situation. And art, also constantly present in my life, stimulates my fantasies and the creative mind.

2. Where Did It All Start?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Now, I know you are dedicated, but I am interested in how did this story start? How did you first get involved in this sport? And is there something in particular that attracted you to do this?

Ilina Arsova

A: I have been doing sports since I was little. First, it was karate, then swimming. I practically started walking in Vodno, thanks to my parents. At the age of 14, I found myself addicted to adrenaline when I enrolled in parachuting at the Aeroclub. At 16, I was already paragliding, and at 20, I discovered the rocks and benefits of the high mountains, of which I can not get enough to this day.

3. The Details of the First Climb

Tose Zafirov

Q: A professional such as yourself has extensive experience in the niche, I guess one full of memories. But do you remember the details of your first climb? Was it an experience that will forever be etched in your memory?

Ilina Arsova

A: Of course, that was my first climb of Mont Blanc in the French Alps in 2006, when I fell in love with the Alpine landscape and the original power of the mountains.

4. The Challenges of Hiking

Tose Zafirov

Q: Each sport and general life task comes with certain obstacles. What are some of the challenges you face while hiking?

Ilina Arsova

A: There are many. From avalanches, strong winds, and extreme cold to psychological crises, physical exhaustion, dehydration, and fear.

5. The Most Memorable Adventure

Tose Zafirov

Q: Which of your adventures is the most memorable? For the public, it’s undoubtedly climbing Mount Everest. But do you consider it as your most significant achievement or you have something else in mind? Also, would you like to share more details about this trip?

Ilina Arsova

A: Mount Everest is my most outstanding achievement that has written national sports history. Still, as a personal record, I would single out the feats of ski mountaineering when I climbed and descended several high mountains with a maximum height of 6,500 m. in classic telemark style. Also, I would undoubtedly single out being among the 70 women in the world that climbed the seven highest peaks on all seven continents.

6. The Preparation Process

Tose Zafirov

Q: All of this is outstanding, but I am sure it takes a lot to achieve such great success. So, how do you prepare before leaving for a mission? Do you have a particular routine?

Ilina Arsova

A: Each mountain has its own problematic part, whether it is a technically steep mountaineering challenge or harsh isolation with extreme temperatures. So, for every problem or situation, I practice what awaits me. For example, for the Matterhorn, Ama Dablam, or Puncak Jaya, I trained more on the rock, while I trained cold by swimming in cold water for Alaska and Antarctica. Psychological training is also essential in every situation, and I will tell you about it in one of my motivational training sessions.

7. What About Nutrition and Fitness?

Tose Zafirov

Q: How do you stay in good shape at all times? Do you find the gyms and fitness centers as a helpful addition to your routine?

Ilina Arsova

A: I find gyms and workouts an excellent place to stay in shape in winter, although I enjoy exercising more in nature. Because I am sometimes too busy with work, I try to have installed all the training equipment I need even at home in my hostel in Ohrid. As I need to maintain a climbing shape, it is essential to keep my toes strong. So, hanging and bending the toes are recommended. All of this, combined with yoga, swimming, and cycling, helps me stay in good shape even during a pandemic.

8. Do You Have Any Plans for The Future?

Tose Zafirov

Q: Would you like to share some of your plans for the future? Do you plan to advance in this field further, or do you have different goals in mind?

Ilina Arsova

A: Yes, I believe in the words “a person learns while he is alive.” I constantly aim and work to upgrade and improve some of my life skills, although it is not so easy for us because we live in a society full of envy and hatred that absolutely prevents us from progressing. Still, that is precisely why I just launched another brand new initiative, the women’s Kachuv school, which just yesterday, on June 27, had its first meeting on the rocks in Demir Kapija.

9. Can You Balance It All?

Tose Zafirov

Q: How do you strike a balance between your private life and your career? Is this a challenge for a woman?

Ilina Arsova

A: A big challenge for every strong and independent woman is to find someone who will follow her in life. I may not be the best example of balancing myself because often, the discipline can succumb to the compromises I make to keep up with my partner.

10. What Is Your Message to The World?

Tose Zafirov

Q: To wrap up, I will ask you my favorite question. If you had a chance, what would you advise beginners in your niche, and what message would you tell the world?

Ilina Arsova

A: It is never too late to start with what makes you happy, and do not let anyone convince you otherwise because even the most experienced were once beginners.

Final Words

Thank you, Ilina, for being such an inspirational figure and being honest in all your answers. I am certain you motivate a bunch of individuals worldwide, including myself. So, we are all excited to witness all your future endeavors. I wish you all the best.

If you are interested in her life and story, make sure to check Ilina Arsova’s Official Wikipedia Page and her creative project Her Story for more inspirational stories from our region.

Ilina Arsova Social Media Profiles:

If you want to check the inspiring stories of many other sports professionals, make sure to check the Interviews page.

Tose Zafirov in a black shirt and a bowtie staring directly at the camera wearing black sunglasses


Tose Zafirov

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