New Heights for the Climate Council

30.01.18 By
This article is more than 6 years old

33 peaks. 3 continents. 34 vertical kilometres.

That’s the epic challenge Josh Worley will be undertaking this year – scaling peaks around the world.

For Josh, this is the culmination of many years work. Falling in love with climbing at the age of 19, Josh soon hatched a dream: to climb a 6000m peak by the age of 30. From this, the idea of the Vertical Year grew.

However, Josh’s plan has a twist.

“When I sat back, I thought how incredibly lucky I am to consider doing such a trip. Climbing is an inherently selfish pursuit that no one else benefits from when you reach the summit,” explains Josh, “so I looked for ways I could give something back.”

For Josh, raising funds and awareness for two causes close to his heart – climate change and mental health – was the natural answer.

Josh is aiming to raise $100,000 split between the Climate Council and ReachOut and embarks on his journey this week. To support his campaign, head to the Vertical Year.

This trip will have it all, from ice climbing in the Canadian Rockies, to 6000m peaks in the Peruvian Andes, to big wall climbing in the Sierra Nevada and summer alpine routes in NZ. We dig deeper into how climate change is impacting each of these destinations, and why the work that Josh is doing here is so important.

Alberta, Canada

One of the most visible impacts of a warming climate is the rapid melting of mountain glaciers. In Canada, most glaciers are found in the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia.

Between now and the end of the century, thousands of glaciers in Alberta may lose 60 to 80% of their combined volume, if we continue to burn fossil fuels at current rates.


Glaciers are the primary source of surface water for some of the driest parts of Canada, the southern prairies of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Rising temperatures are melting this ice and snow at an increasing rate. This could have serious consequences such as longer droughts, which would directly affect basic needs of local communities, public services and economic activity (agriculture, industry and commerce).


Huaraz, Peru


Peru is home to 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers. In the Andes of South America, glaciers have lost between 30-50% of their surface area since the late 1970s. For example, The Pastoruri Glacier has shrunk by half in the last 20 years.

In addition to melting glaciers, other environmental impacts of climate change include reduced agricultural productivity, water shortages, and the risk of poverty and socioeconomic inequality.


Sierra Nevada, California

Sierra Nevada glaciers have become smaller over the past century. Today, the glaciers have receded up the mountains and have dramatically shrunk in size. Glaciers in this region lost an average of 55% of their surface area by 2004.

California is on the frontline when it comes to the impacts of climate change. Warmer temperatures and a decrease in rainfall have intensified drought conditions across the state, and have the potential to worsen wildfires even further.

Despite the increasing impacts of climate change, California stands out as a leading state in the US with a wide range of initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy.


Wanaka, New Zealand

Warming temperatures will affect higher elevations most. This means snow will decrease throughout New Zealand, however with a greater effect on the higher altitudes of the southern regions in the South Island.

The impact of less snow will be felt especially by the ski/snowboard tourism industry. For example, the number of days with snow depths suitable for snowfields will decrease if emissions continue at current rates. New Zealand ski fields are however expected to maintain much of its current snow depths, but Australia’s ski fields are likely to be affected much sooner and more severely as snow depths decrease more rapidly.