Initially, Brisbane-based climber Josh Worley was just trying to come up with an awesome way to bring in his 30th birthday, but has since turned into something much larger: a climbing. challenge to raise $100,000 to help fight climate change.

Beginning this year, Worley plans to spend a full year travelling around the Americas and New Zealand in order to climb 33 of the world’s most physically demanding mountains.

Dubbing it his ‘Vertical Year’, Worley’s plans have evolved a long way from simply climbing Alpamayo in Peru in order to celebrate his 30th, and has instead decided to take on a much larger initiative in order to “give something back”.

Vertical Year launch event

Adventure enthusiasts and well-wishers gather for Worley’s Vertical Year launch event.

“I realised I am extremely fortunate so I wanted to use the trip as an opportunity to give something back,” the 29-year-old said in a recent media statement.

Worley has also become an advocate for the role that outdoor adventure plays in instilling confidence and improving mental wellbeing among participants, and so has come to see these activities as both critical to personal health as well as global sustainability.

“Each time I venture into the mountains I learn something about myself. Clinging to a thin sheet of ice on the side of a mountain with hundreds of meters of air beneath you forces you to deal with things like objective hazard, fear, anxiety and failure which is important for good mental health,” he said.

“Climate Change poses the biggest threat to these awe inspiring environments and as users we have an obligation to conserve them for future generations.”

Obviously an accomplished climber, Worley still considers himself more of a consummate weekend warrior than a professional athlete, and so he hopes to inspire others to develop their own passions without adding unnecessary pressure to succeed.

“I wanted to show people you don’t have to be a professional athlete to undertake epic adventures like this. If you are passionate, dream big and commit then it is within reach of all of us.”

Worley officially launched Vertical Year at a charity event in Brisbane on the 20th of January that raised over $500, bringing the initiative’s campaign total up to $13,370.

An overall goal of $100,000 has been set, with proceeds to be donated to ReachOut Australia and the Australian Climate Council.

If successful, he will have spent 1,100 hours on near vertical terrain over the course of the year, as he summits 33 peaks between 3,000 and 6,800 metres elevation.