I have been lucky enough to stand on the top of the 3 Sisters three times. I say lucky because two of the three times was with the help of a helicopter. The heli would land us just below the summit then we would climb the last 500 metres of vertical on our own, which was a still a decent climb. Over the years Ascent has been pressured enough times not to bring people up there with a helicopter for many reasons, so this time my friend Alex Hanson and I took a stab at it without the help of flight, and the feeling of cresting the peak by our own means was incredible.
Alex and I have been filming together for the past few years, mostly in the winter and it seems every time we go out something stops us from achieving our goal – snow conditions, bad light or weather has turned us around many times. Being summer there are far less variables so we hoped to pull off a successful mission.
Our mission was to summit the middle Sister via Hiko’s Trail. Me with my bike and Alex with his camera gear. We were to spend the night on the peak capturing sunset, the stars and sunrise, then of course the incredible descend from the peak.
We left the truck at 3pm, and with the amount of gear we were packing we guessed it would take us seven hours to reach the top. We both had heavy packs loaded with food, water, camping gear, Alex’s two camera’s including a drone and my bike.
Fifteen minutes in to our hike, it began to rain. It came down hard and I watched the leaves surrounding us dance under the rain drops, something we have not seen in a while. I welcomed the rain, but Alex was worried about his gear getting wet so we hid under a tree until the small storm passed and once the rain stopped we continued on.
We took our time climbing the ladders through the steeps beside The Jumping Waters and continued passed the Bisaro Cave. We were making good time considering our load, then thunder clapped above us and we looked at each other and laughed. Because of the nature of our mission we had to pack accordingly. We didn’t have room for a tent, or an excessive amount of warm clothes. Rain on the peak would mean disaster but the single thunder clap wasn’t going to scare us off. We discussed it and neither of us were that bothered by the idea of having to turn around and walk back in the dark if we had to. Luckily, the higher we got the better the weather became. We pressed on through the tree line and up to The Pass.
It had only been four hours, we were ahead of schedule and figured it would take us about an hour to reach the peak. It is the hardest part though, the last stint. It is nothing but shale and I had to carry my bike on my shoulder almost the entire way. Our tired legs shook beneath us as we made the final steps up the last section of the hike. Placing my tires on the ground at the summit was one of the most rewarding ascents I’ve ever done. We made it in time for the sunset, and what a sunset it was.
We got the drone in the air and took some shots then set up our sleeping quarters. The only cover from the elements we had were the rock walls protecting us from the wind. After the sun set behind Mt. Fischer we waited for darkness. Equally as Fernie began to glow, so did the the stars and I have never seen stars like that. We could see the entire ring of the galaxy stretching from one side of the Earth to the other. Alex took some photos and set up a star-lapse that would run all night, then we went to bed.
I was more prepared for the cold then Alex, but even I was cold. Neither of us slept very well that night and as soon as the sun came up, we rose with it, seeking it’s warmth and admiring it’s beauty as it stretched it’s rays across the peaks all around us. I geared up for more shots and Alex flew the drone and did some more time-lapses capturing the amazing sunrise.
Now, it was time. I felt nervous. The ride down the from the peak is extreme to say the least and we were already on top. There was no warm up, just coast in and drop which I did twice to get two different angles with the drone. After the second shot I waited for Alex to climb down to me and even though now I was below the summit I felt even more on top of the world then I did on the peak. The rush I got from descending that section of trail and hearing how stoked Alex was on the shot had me firing on all cylinders. I was amped and still had 3000ft of vertical to ride.
Unfortunately the gimbal on the drone stopped working after the two shots we got off the top so we were not able to film the other shots we had planned, which fit in with the rest of our ‘failed’ missions, but this mission was not all a complete failure – it was a feat. We battled through harsh alpine conditions, got some wicked photos and some breathtaking footage.
Once back in town both Alex and I felt the strain of the mission, I dealt with an intense fever and Alex had huge blisters on each foot, but we both agreed it was worth it and something we would do again, something we had to do again. For we have unfinished business in those hills.