For the Love: Tom Livingstoneâ€™s Climbing Year
- Thursday 2nd March 2017
March 2nd; 2017
Full-time climber Tom Livingstone ‘got about a bit’ in 2016 and has the footage to prove it!
Featuring locations from as far afield as the Alps to Patagonia and routes from The Long Hope Route on Hoy to the House/Anderson on Mt Alberta , 2016 was nothing if not a varied year for Tom. CLIMBER have been in touch with him to drill down into the detail:
You’re a rock climber and an alpinist – which floats your boat the most and why?
I don’t have a preference. I think trad climbing and alpine climbing complement each other well. It’s a natural break in the seasons, and I couldn’t afford to be an alpinist year-round - the flights are very expensive! I enjoy UK trad as it’s where I learnt to climb. I guess my favourite is ‘the mountains’ - I’m happy to trad climb, run, and alpine climb if it’s in the mountains.
Taking each in turn which are the stand-out routes from 2016; starting with rock climbs first – which routes and why?
Rock climbs: The Long Hope route with Tony Stone stands out most - it’s was a great adventure, some Type 2 fun dodging fulmars with chossy rock! Tony is a really solid partner and we had a laugh. I’m keen to go back... one day…!
In my personal trad climbing I was psyched to have a great year: onsighting E7 (Surgical Lust), ticking a few classic E6s (Skinhead Moonstomp) and headpointing E9 (Rare Lichen). It’s not about the grades, but my experiences on these routes will certainly stay with me for a while, and were routes I’d wanted to do for a while. I got my 'Gogarth fix’ by climbing Rock of Ages (E7 6c), a George Smith pump-fest, which is classic upside-down madness. I also sport climbed my first 8a+ which was great.
Same question but for the mountains; which routes and why?
The Walker Spur in winter on the Grandes Jorasses was amazing. It was a ‘life-enriching’ experience as Pete Graham says. He’s cool to climb with - he just gets on with it, and loves a good bivi! Climbing the Dru via the Pierre Allain/Classic Route with Kim Ladiges was also fun because I’d always wanted to climb the Dru!
The standout mountain route was definitely the House/Anderson on Mt. Alberta with Uisdean Hawthorn. We’d attempted it in 2015, so it was satisfying to go back and climb it. Things went smoothly, which was a pleasant surprise, and Uisdean and I ate a lot of pizza and burgers after it!
The mountain rock climbs were also mega: Divine Providence in the Alps has so much history about it, and some brilliant climbing. It was a shame it was went. Climbing the American Direct in a day on the Dru was cool, but we were so knackered from Divine Provedence!
How did 2016 compare to previous years for you?
Each year for the past few years, I’ve looked back and thought, ‘wow, that was a great year!’ And the same goes for 2016. I think I’m progressing naturally because I’m investing a lot of time and energy into climbing, and I’m trying to climb as much as possible. In 2016 I climbed my personal best in terms of grades, but that happened in 2013, 2014, and 2015! Hopefully the same goes for 2017.
Looks like you've done a reasonably comprehensive job of avoiding the office! What's your secret?
I wish there was a secret! I devote almost all my time to climbing, and constantly live in a simple, ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence. An office job simply doesn’t fit with my lifestyle at the moment, but I’m not sure if I’ve chosen to avoid it by climbing, or if it’s avoided me because I’m always climbing… Anyway, I recognise my lifestyle isn’t sustainable forever, and I’m looking forward to settling down with a stable job and regular income at some point.
I do live half in poverty, and have a lot of money worries, but I can’t complain because I’ve chosen to climb all the time!
What’s on your ‘to-do’ list for 2017?
I’m going to Chamonix for March for some winter alpine climbing, then Alaska in May/June with Uisdean Hawthorn. Hopefully I’ll get some decent weather and conditions on both those trips. Fingers crossed! I’ll spend the summer with my girlfriend, trad climbing and working. My bouldering is still pitiful, so I’ll try a few problems in the summer, too!
What’s your long term objectives in climbing?
I think it’s to push myself in the alpine and trad environments. I’d be psyched to climb something big and/or new in the Greater Ranges, and to transfer some hard-earned sport fitness into trad onsights. I’m just continuing to be really psyched, and with lots of energy, and trying harder and bigger things!
So, having got an overview of the detail – have a watch at Tom’s video below…