Tom Livingstone in Shrewsbury

Posted by Jeremy Windsor on Nov 26, 2019

Shrewsbury is the place to be tomorrow night! Tom Livingstone is giving a talk at The Hive entitled, "Adventures On The World's Hardest Peaks". At the age of just 28, Tom has become one of the UK's most accomplished all round climbers. He will be recounting the story of his recent expedition to the previously unclimbed north side of Latok I (7145m). Together with Slovenian's Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar, Tom reached the summit after 7 days of challenging climbing. However, two Russian mountaineers were not so fortunate. Whilst retreating from their attempt on the north ridge, Sergey Glazunov fell to his death, leaving his partner Alexander Gukov stranded for six days before eventually being rescued by helicopter. 

Latok I. The long north ridge can be seen on the right. Livingstone's team climbed most of it before eventually moving left onto the face. Jeff Lowe, who was part of the first attempt on the north ridge in 1978, described it as, "the unfinished business of the last generation". Despite more than 40 years of attempts noone had previously climbed a route on the north side of the mountain (Photo: Tom Livingstone Collection).

Tom's comments about the Russian pair provide a rare insight into the thoughts of elite mountaineers. Here's a flavour of what he said to UKClimbing,

"When Alexander and Sergey were climbing this year and were high on the mountain, they repeatedly said they were making ambitious and unrealistic 'summit attempts.' They were far below the summit (about 6800m), and despite attempts on previous days, they again and again (for perhaps 3 days in a row) pushed for the top. We watched them through the binoculars at base camp, nervous at their risky attitude.

Their pace from the previous nine days was incredibly slow. Their pace was unlikely to have dramatically improved on summit attempts, and they were climbing very small distances each day. They were in bad weather, at high altitude, and very fatigued after many days without much food. Their perseverance was impressive, but we believe they should have retreated days ago. Indeed, when bad weather appeared, they still made a summit attempt. We simply shook our heads, and thought they were pushing too far, at too high an altitude, for too long. We thought they were going to have an epic. Even their Russian friends at BC were concerned, and organised a helicopter to check them out and attempted to throw supplies to them.

Later that day, Sergey fell to his death".

Tom flanked by Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar (Photo: Tom Livingston Collection)

It promises to be a fascinating talk! 

Doors open at 7pm and tickets can be bought here.

An excellent history of climbing on Latok I can be found here.

Tom's talk marks the start of the Shrewsbury Winter Adventure Series. Further talks will be announced tomorrow night and posted on our blog soon after.

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