Alma Rrika, an Albanian in Italy

Alma Rrika

If I were to think about a natural association for Alma I would not hesitate to say the mountain.

She is certainly one of the most passionate people of the mountains I have ever met: mountaineering, mountain-biking, hiking, trail-running, sky running, rock climbing. The whole package is part of Alma’s passion.

But Alma is also an “emigrant” for quite few years in Italy and a “trailer” in the sense of trail-runner. In fact, we met in my first trail running races in Piedmont, almost 10 years ago. At each local race I often found myself “competing” with this strong and fast runner, always followed by the nice Bruno (her husband), who then made a considerable number of photos for all the participants.

From those first races, an excellent bond was created between us with a passion for the mountains at the base. So, it is not unusual that in my quick stages back to Piedmont, one of the friends I have always had the opportunity to meet was Alma. And of course, for a walk/hike on some mountain peak.

So tonight, we picked up the phone and we made a very pleasant video call Wiesbaden (Germany) <-> Avigliana (Italy), talking about mountains, travels, the current restrictions and finally concluding with my five TRAIL questions.

T like Testa Grigia

The last time we met I think it was Christmas Eve or Christmas morning some years ago. You, Bruno and I met ourselves in Cervinia, and we started to climb the ski mountaineering slopes, in order to reach the Rifugio Guide del Cervino at 3480 m, at Plateau Rosa at Testa Grigia (Testa Grigia – Wikipedia), passing by Theodul Pass. It was a beautiful morning between 3000 and 4000m. And I remember we talked about your 4000m collection. How many peaks have you reached, how many are you missing and what would be the next?

“Well, first of all the alpine mountains above 4000m are 82! I have climbed 34 and some of these peaks I have repeated several times, like the Breithorn (link: Breithorn – Wikipedia). The next peak? It should have been the Aletschhorn (link: Aletschhorn – Wikipedia) last summer. But it wasn’t the pandemic that stopped me. It was rather an accident: a motorcycle hit me while I was biking and I broke a rib. Therefore, this event stopped me for a month and now the Aletschhorn could be a goal for next summer”.

R like Rocciamelone

“You live at the beginning of Val Susa, a side valley of Piedmont not far from Turin. This valley is dominated by Rocciamelone (Rocciamelone – Wikipedia), the mountain that is the symbol of the “valsusini“. This is an atypical mountain that allows to run/walk uphill for three vertical kilometers, covering ca. 10 km in distance. When I lived in Turin it was one of my favorite climbs. Is it also true for you? can you tell us the emotions it conveys to you?

“I like to climb the Rocciamelone when it is not very popular, often with the possibility of using crampons and ice axes, so not in late summer. What I like about doing such long uphill is the variation of colors passing from the villages of the valley, to the woods, then to the meadows, and finally to the high-altitude rocky landscape. And then I like the 360° view from the top which always leaves me thinking about new routes and destinations. It is not uncommon for me to go home, open a geographical map and try to connect the peaks I have seen with those on the map”.

A like Albania

“Albania is your country of origin. I think it is a nation still little known for the outdoors. Can you give any advice or recommendations on places to spend weekends and an entire week for exploration holidays?

“The northern part with the Valbone Valley (link: Valbonë Valley National Park – Wikipedia) is a unique jewel, to be explored and lived for several days. It is a very wild terrain and is somewhat reminiscent of the Dolomites – Wikipedia. Ah, there was supposed to be a trail race in 2020 and 2021 which obviously was canceled due to the pandemic. So let’s wait for 2022″.

I like Iseo Lake

If I remember correctly, a few years ago you participated in the Trentapassi Skyrace (Home – Trentapassi Sky Race), whose trails move through the peaks around Lake Iseo. The sky race (17,6 km and 1400 m D+) is considered one of the most difficult but evocative races of the alpine trail panorama. It is on my wish list. What do you remember of that race to give some suggestions to me and to those who wanted to do it?

“Yes, correct. What a great race! I remember many olive groves, a wild terrain with many stones and 4 km with an altitude difference of 1000m, and then the atmosphere of the event and competition. The quality level of the athletes was crazy, unbelievable. And despite not having done an excellent result, I was happy at the finish line. Actually: super happy! In fact, being able to compare myself with such strong athletes was a huge motivation. Winning a race when the athletic level is not so high does not give you the full satisfaction and emotions”.

L like Lockdown

“I think I know you pretty well. For such a passionate lover of the outdoor and the mountains, how heavy is the restriction caused by the continuous changes of rules with the respect to Covid-19 pandemic?”

“It is very hard. Last year the absolute ban on moves had limited us to walks around the house in a few hundred meters. It was bad to be not so much free to go alone in the woods. Instead, the beautiful part of the lockdown was being able to spend time with Bruno (the husband) and see the change of colors of the season. In general, I miss the chance to visit my parents in Albania, just going to Briancon which is not far from here as you know, and meet and hug good friends”.

“Yes. I miss it as well and I hope that next time we meet we can give each other a big hug. Thank you, Alma”.

Additional information about Alma

In case you would like to contact Alma for more detailed information about her being an “emigrantrailer” in Italy, it is useful to know that:

  • Age: 49 years (1972)
  • Country of origin: Albania (Laç, Lezhë County)
  • Country of current residence: Italy (Avigliana, Piedmont)
  • Facebook: Alma Rrika | Facebook
  • ITRA profile: – ITRAWeb
  • Spoken languages: Italian, Albanian

Related projects and articles

Other short chats with “Emigrantrailers” around the world at the link: Emigrantrailers around the world | EmigranTrailer.

Enjoy Trail-Running!

Andrea De Filippo

Original post in english language. For other languages, please open with a web browser (i.e. Chrome) and apply the automatic translation.

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