Two former Ponoka residents were part of a determined team that scaled three mountain peaks on Sept. 8 — all for a tremendous cause.
In support of The Aslan 3 Peak Challenge, Ravi Jaipaul, Ryan Bell, and their team climbed Ha Ling near Canmore, Tunnel Mountain in Banff, and Cirque Peak north of Lake Louise.
That’s a total of 25 km and a whopping 2,100 meters of elevation in one day.
Altogether more than $15,000 was raised for the cause.
Proceeds will go to the Aslan Jaipaul Scholarship which awards a yearly scholarship to a deserving high school student who has overcome obstacles in their journey to graduation.
“My son passed away a few years ago — his name was Aslan and he was a beautiful child who overcame so many obstacles in his life,” explained Jaipaul, who now lives in Calgary.
“He really left such a deep impact on us,” he said. “Everyone who got to meet him in the short amount of time that he was here, has experienced a rapid transformation in their life. It feels like he did something that was super special for a lot of people.’
At that time, back in 2021, Bell and Jaipaul had already been doing a yearly hike.
“So I thought what better way to continue Aslan’s legacy than to start a scholarship?”
This year, the guys attended the graduation ceremonies at Ponoka Composite High School to present a scholarship. “We got to give the scholarship to this incredible woman who had overcome so many challenges in her pursuit of graduation,” he recalled. “It was really inspiring. It just felt like full circle.
“So Ryan and I were talking about the scholarship and our hike. We said why don’t we make this a bigger hike, and why don’t we turn it into a fundraiser?
“So we came up with the Aslan 3 Peak Challenge. I googled as to whether anyone had ever climbed these peaks before, and it didn’t seem like it had ever been done in a day. So we thought, you know what? That’s a cool fundraising shtick, and let’s put all of the money raised towards this scholarship for the future.”
A group of like-minded folks came together to tackle the challenge.
“We started fundraising and it really started to snowball. We got so much support from so many people. It was extremely heartening. And it turned into something greater than ourselves.”
As to scaling three peaks in one day, there’s no question is proved a demanding venture.
“It was a journey. It was quite an adventure. It was also hard and super challenging. But we all made it and we all had good spirits. It’s one of those things when you are doing something for a cause that is greater than yourself, it’s not hard to be inspired.”
For Bell, selecting the right peaks was key to a successful day.
“We started with Ha Ling at about 6 a.m. just before sunrise in the dark, with our headlamps. We got up and back down again in about three and one-half hours,” he explained.
After a break, they headed to Tunnel Mountain which took a couple of hours.
“Then, we drove an hour from there to Cirque Peak and that took us eight hours — we finished at about 9:30 p.m. The last 45 minutes or so was in the dark as well. It was quite an amazing experience!”
Jaipaul agreed that Cirque Peak was the toughest.
“It was a beast. You have to hike about three hours before you even see the peak,” he explained. “Then we were losing sunlight, and obviously everyone was super tired.
“We woke up that day at 4 a.m. and I think we got off the last mountain at 10 p.m. so it was as full of a day as you can get.
“It’s not even a trail at the top,” he recalled of Cirque Peak. “It’s just climbing up loose rock. But it was special to get to the top.”
But it was all so worth it. It pays tribute to a child whose legacy will live on in such a powerful way.
“You don’t know where these kids are going to go, and you don’t know what the money is going to be used for. And that’s not the (whole) purpose,” said Jaipaul.
“We are sending the message that you matter, and that your story is important, too. And I think that’s kind of what Aslan taught us.”
It’s not too late to support this year’s 3 Peak Challenge. Go to https://rb.gy/uiyd9