Sisters' hike pays tribute to late mother

Over three days, sisters Laimarie and Loloma Ripley fulfilled their late mother’s dying wish by hiking to the top of Samoa’s highest peak, Mount Silisili.

The sisters carried their late mother’s ashes to the top of Samoa's highest peak and back on a three-day trip from 6 to 8 October with the determination of realising her last request.

The women’s late mother, Ianeta Ripley, passed away during the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand. The sisters were in Samoa at the time. 

Due to COVID-19 related border closures, they were unable to travel to New Zealand.

Their mother's body was cremated and brought back to the country on 29 May by their father, Peter Ripley. 

According to a statement they posted online, the sisters said that when their mother was sick, she told them that she wanted to spend more time with them in Savai’i and climb up Mt. Vaea again. 

"When mom got very sick, she promised dad that when she recovers and returns home [from New Zealand] after her treatments, she [would] spend more time [...] in Savai’i and to attempt to climb Mt Vaea again with them,”  said Laimarie.

“Hiking even small hills was a challenge to Mom.”

She said that choosing to climb Mt. Silisili was a challenging decision but one that she and her sister made to honour their mother’s memory. 

"Climbing Mt Silisili was also the hardest ever physical challenge Loloma and I had decided on but we were determined to do this for Mom,” she said. 

Laimarie added they prayed for each step, slide, fall and climb for their hike up the difficult track. 

What was supposed to have been a one night camp turned into two as the sisters divided their ascent into two phases. 

"We wouldn’t have been able to do it any other way, nor without the excellent help of our Guides, Mailata Iosia and John," Laimarie said

"Our hearts are filled with love and gratitude, and we are at peace.”

Members of the Mt Silisili Trail Aopo Project were honoured and humbled to be a part of the Ripley sisters’ journey. 

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