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For the first time in Kosovo, 13 mountaineers participated in a training program developed especially for them, made possible by the UTALAYA Foundation, as part of the project “NaturKosovo – the natural and cultural capital in Kosovo and sustainable tourist development of the Via Dinarica”. This Mountain Guide training, with activities, sesions, practices, and lectures by experts, is part of the certification program for easy trails in summer conditions, Category A1 according to the standards of the International Mountaineering and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA).

The training was divided into two phases: In the first phase of the training program, the candidates attended lectures by experts in the relevant fields on the topics: Personal and technical equipment, mountain guide psychology, environmental protection, biodiversity, moral and legal responsibility, orientation with compass and map – in theory and practice, navigation with GPS devices and mobile applications in theory and practice, and knot practice. In the framework of the second phase, which is also the main part of the training program, the candidates have attended the lectures and the practical part in Reke of Allaga in Rugova, in the Kosovar part of Via Dinarica. The intensive program took place for six consecutive days and each day began with morning exercises in the beautiful nature of the Rugova mountains. Further, candidates in the group worked on compass and map orientation, GPS orientation and mobile applications, personal and technical equipment, nodes, and radio communication. For orientation at night, the candidates were divided into groups and challenged each other to the race to find points and reach the finish line as quickly as possible.

Thirteen participants attended the lecture on mountain hazards and rescue and first aid led by Besart Ejupi from the Kosovo Security Force. They were also informed about the psychology of mountain climbing by Ilinka Ristevska. Part of the training program was Mr. Skender Sina, who shared with the candidates his experience in mountaineering, about the history of mountaineering in Kosovo and marking the trails. Throughout the training days, the program continued with movement and orientation techniques – safety line, rope descent and bivouac with instructors Nikola Petrov, Ilinka Risteska, Kadir Bajrami, Vlatko Grozdanovski, Ivan Kiseloski, Metodi Çilimanov and Aleksandar Stojanovski.

Uta Ibrahimi shared her experience in climbing at high altitudes: About preparations, challenges, and experiences in expeditions. They also watched a presentation on meteorology by Mendim Rugova who lectured about trail marking and worked in groups to plan a route using a map and compass.

The training was held by the Mountaineering Federation of North Macedonia in cooperation with lecturers from Kosovo. Candidates have passed the written exam and are required to complete 88 hours of theory and practice in the program for easy trials in summer conditions, Category A1 according to UIAA standards.

So far, 6 individuals have been certified as mountain guides, while others are in the process of advancement and are working hard towards reaching their goal.

“NaturKosovo – the natural and cultural capital in Kosovo and the sustainable tourism development of the Via Dinarica” is financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, in cooperation with the Italian Embassy in Pristina. The project is implemented by a group of Italian and Kosovar organizations consisting of the NGOs “Volontari nel Mondo RTM” and “CELIM”, with the technical support of the UTALAYA Foundation, the Italian Alpine Club, the Italian National Alpine Rescue and Speleology Corps and the Italian Association for Tourism responsible.