Josh Worley after he climbed Murchison Falls.
Josh Worley after he climbed Murchison Falls. Jaz Morris

Aussie engineer tackles 33 wild summits in 40 days

SCALING up a 700m frozen waterfall in Canada, some would call Gladstone engineer Josh Worley mad.

Now three months into his Vertical Year project, the 29-year-old adventurer climbed 33 routes in the Canadian Rockies in 40 days, covering a vertical distance of more than 6km.

Most with avalanche hazards and in temperatures as low as minus-30 degrees, Mr Worley has taken on some of the most challenging climbs, including the Polar Circus.

The Polar Circus attracts climbers from around the world to test their skills up the 700m tiered frozen waterfall.

 

Josh Morley climbing  Guinness Stout.
ALMOST THERE: Josh Worley makes his way up one of the famous "Beer Climbs”, Guinness Stout. Jaz Morris

"With no less than 20 start zones for avalanches threatening the route, you have to pick your window carefully and move efficiently over a lot of technical terrain," Mr Worley said.

"We climbed the route in nine hours car to car, which is pretty good for a couple of Aussies.

"Climbing the upper half of the route puts you in a wild position ... it's a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life."

Mr Worley and fellow Australian Adam Darragh started the Vertical Year project in January to raise money for the Climate Council and Reach Out.

They have raised almost $18,000 of their $100,000 goal.

 

Josh Morley climbing Shades of Beauty.
Climbing Shades of Beauty.

During his three months in Canada Mr Worley has become even more passionate about being an advocate to wind back the climate change impact.

One of the major influences on his environmental stance was Canadian Ben Gadd, a geologist, guide and author of more than 10 books.

"Sitting down and chatting with people like Ben was a fantastic experience," Mr Worley said.

 

Josh Morley climbing Murchison Falls.
Josh Worley climbing Murchison Falls. Jaz Morris

"The meteorological data shows that average temperatures and water minimums have increased by two to four degrees Celsius over the past 50 years here in the Rockies."

He said it was important to understand the impact climate change had on life in the Rockies, including the increased wildfire risk.

"Every person I spoke to had a common message, that getting out and experiencing the outdoors has a profound impact on us as individuals, whether that is spiritually, physically or on our mental well-being," Mr Worley said.

"That is why we need to preserve these amazing environments."

 

Josh Morley climbing Mt Bourgeau near Banff.
Josh Worley climbing Mt Bourgeau.

The former Gladstone Power Station worker's love for climbing started when he was young, dragging his parents to climbing gyms.

But it wasn't until he was 19 while travelling through Thailand that he had his first real taste of rock climbing.

"In a trip of many firsts, those two days climbing at a limestone formation known as 'Crazy Horse Buttress' were my favourite and I was irrefutably hooked," he said.

Mr Worley's next stop is Peru, where he will attempt to climb the highest and most difficult mountains in the Cordillera Blanca between now and the end of August.

He and Mr Darragh will also take on mountaineering, rock climbing and alpine climbing challenges.

To follow his journey and/or donate visit www.verticalyear.com

Fast facts:

The Vertical Year will attempt to summit 33 peaks between 3000-6800m elevation, totalling more than 34vertical kilometres of terrain

Josh Worley is expected to spend more than 1100 hours on near-vertical terrain next year - that's more than 20per cent of his waking hours for the entire year