Josh Edwards has just returned from a grueling hike that took him over two of the highest peaks in the world but it was the inspiration of a committed charity in Dubbo that motivated him to do it.
The Dubbo resident said he was so motivated by the determination and goals of Heart Our Heart that he decided to embark on a climb to two of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. In the process, he raised $6000 which will go towards the mobile children's ear health clinic.
Josh climbed both the Mera Peak and Island Peak, which stand 6476 and 6189 metres above sea level respectively as well as trekking along the Amphu Lapsta pass, which is 5845m above sea level.
In order to be ready for the hike, Josh trained for more than a year. He trained six days a week, hiking with a 20 kilogram weighted backpack in order to prepare him. There were still a lot of risks and dangers associated with the climb and some of those in his expedition were unable to see it through.
"It was a pretty tough experience. We were pretty successful but the conditions were so tough," Josh said.
"There were 12 of us started out in the expedition but we lost half of our group to frostbite and illness. It was pretty tough to watch them have to be choppered out.
"I had prepared pretty well mentally and physically and I think that helped me but I still didn't know how I would go at 6000 metres above sea level, I hadn't climbed that high before. Climbing the second peak was a big achievement after losing half the group."
Josh said the Hear Our Heart committee had inspired him to make the climb and he thanked those who donated to the cause. He is pleased that the Ear Bus conducted the first tests at St Laurence's while he was away.
"They have raised over $170,000 which is great and they have started testing but they still need more funds so they can afford a permanent audiologist. The first test was carried out while I was away and that is a big milestone."
The 28-year-old is no stranger to climbing, having previously reached Mt Everest base camp but his most recent experience saw him reach new heights. After successfully climbing above 6000m, he is now eligible to go to 8000m.
"I'm now qualified to go to 8000m peaks. It's a bit too early to say if I will do it but I do still have the urge to go back.