Based out of north Wales in the U.K., Tom Livingstone is a mountaineer who specializes in trad climbing, as well as winter and alpine ascents. For Tom, the harder the climb, the better, as he thrives on the challenge. Some of his favorite routes include The Citadel in the Cairngorms and The Shroud on Ben Nevis, both of which are considered classics on his side of the pond. He particularly loves taking on the difficult rock faces of the Scottish Highlands, as well as the numerous sea cliffs that are common throughout the U.K.
Recently, we had the opportunity to talk to the 25-year old climber about his favorite gear, upcoming projects, and what he is most excited about in terms of outdoor adventure. Here’s what he had to say.
Gear Institute: Hi Tom! Thanks for giving us a bit of time today. Can you tell us what you’re working on currently? Any big projects coming up?
Tom Livingstone: I’m currently getting psyched and fit for winter climbing. This involves a lot of training for Scottish winter climbing and alpinism. I’ve got plenty of plans but we’ll have to wait to see how weather conditions shape up in the mountains! I hope to carry the fitness levels I’m gaining now all the way through to the summer rock climbing season next year too.
GI: Sounds like you’ve got some exciting things planned for the winter. When you head out on a climb, what are some pieces of gear that you always take with you?
TL: Each time I venture into the mountains it’s for a different reason – whether it’s trail running with just a pair of shorts and an energy gel, or going for a multi-day mission on a tough alpine route. During the winter though, I always carry my DMM Switch axe as it is durable, well balanced and tough enough for every route, be it ice or mixed. I also take a headtorch, because the winter days are short and the pitches are long, so making sure I have a reliable – and powerful – light source is a must. Also, I know that I can keep going for far longer if I keep myself well fed and fully hydrated, so regular energy intake is essential. That’s why energy gels and bars are a part of my gear list too.
GI: And when it comes to the gear that your sponsors provide, what are the items you prefer to have with you on a climb?
TL: My main sponsor is Jöttnar, so I always take a selection of their products with me on a climb. My favorites include the Fenrir down jacket, which keeps me warm and dry in the alpine. It’s hydrophobic down even works when wet, which is remarkable. I also like to carry a reliable jacket such as the Hymir Smock or Bergelmir hardshell jacket, each of which give me the confidence to ride out the bad weather and focus on the climbing. The colors are also pretty rad, too! Finally, I’m a big fan of the Alfar mid-layer jacket too. It’s fantastic for both fast-paced activities and stop-and-start climbing. The insulation is only in the body but your arms still stay warm thanks to the Powerstretch fabrics. Really it is perfect!
GI: Do you have any special packing tips you can share with our readers?
TL: Keep it simple, take the minimum and go fast. Experience will teach you what the minimum is, and fitness will make you go fast. Keep items out of dry bags/stuff sacks – they create dead space and it’s much better to stuff them in between everything. I keep my crampons inside my rucksack since that’s the whole point of a rucksack anyway. Plus, it stops people from getting impaled on the sharp points.
GI: Great advice! Thanks. Can you tell us the one thing you’re most excited about in terms of outdoor adventure right now?
TL: I’m just looking forward to winter at the moment, and I’m keen to get stuck in some hard routes. It’ll be interesting to see if the standard of climbing continues to rise too, as there are some people who are really pushing the limits right now.
Thanks for you time Tom, and good luck on your upcoming winter climbs too.