The Lockdown Q&A – #5: Tom Livingstone

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As we all continue to live with restrictions on our outdoor activities, we talk to some of the world’s best mountaineers and mountain athletes about what they are doing to stay fit and focused during the Covid crisis. Next up is alpinist Tom Livingstone, Petzl athlete…

Where are you, and with whom, during lockdown?
I’m actually in Bristol. I was in the Alps but then France went into lockdown, so I boosted back home. It was a surreal experience to have my climbing bag packed and ready for a big alpine route, with the forecast looking great… and then to completely change plans and throw my life into duffle bags and head for Calais.

Are you able to get out into the hills/mountains/outdoors, or are you restricted to your home and immediate vicinity?
Thankfully, I’m able to get outside a lot. I’m in two minds about the current situation. Part of me treats it like an expedition to the Greater Ranges – albeit with all the luxuries of home life! With this mentality, I feel strong and am almost daring the restrictions to last for months: “Come on then, do your worst!” But I also think you can interpret the rules in many ways and justify your actions according to your intentions. From a C-19 perspective, I see more risk in going to the supermarket three times a week, than onsighting most E5s. The main point, however, is that I hope everyone realises the physical and mental benefits of daily exercise.

Are you training/exercising at home, and if so, how?
Most mornings, I’m drinking 10 pints of beer, running a quick marathon, and then doing max hangs on the 6mm edges on my hangboard… until I wake up at 10am and realise I still need a haircut! No seriously, I’m training like a man possessed!

What are you looking forward to most when restrictions are lifted?
This year I was supposed to go big: I planned alpine climbing trips to Alaska, Pakistan and Nepal. I’m pissed I can’t go to Alaska this spring, but c’est la vie. Hopefully Pakistan (in the summer) and Nepal (autumn) work out. If not, UK trad is where it’s at!

Name a book and/or film you’d recommend to help keep our readers motivated/entertained during lockdown?
I recently watched ‘‘71’ which is fantastic and frightening. It describes some of the fighting in Northern Ireland in 1971 and is shocking, brutal, and insightful. Watch it and then have a sit down and think.I’m currently reading ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed. It proposes that talent is a myth, and the only way to get very good at something is through extensive and purposeful practice. Hard work and perseverance is the way!

How do you anticipate the Covid-19 situation affecting your future plans and activities, and what – if any – changes do you think you’ll need to make?  
I think this has given us all a moment to pause and reflect. I hope we can move to a more sustainable and long-term mentality after this, but I suspect our lives will go straight back to normal after about a week! Interestingly, I’ve realised I’m at a stage in my life where I’m fully motivated and committed to climbing. I feel like I’ve got a lot of momentum, I know what I want to do, and I’m psyched to continue ‘going big’. In this respect, I can’t wait for the lockdown to end and I can rage in the mountains!

Can you supply a photo of either a) you keeping busy at home during the lockdown or b) in the mountains during happier times, and describe the image in a few words?
This photo is from January, when I was sport climbing in Spain. For me, sport climbing is one of the most simple and enjoyable forms of climbing, is good training, and I was blissfully unaware of the impending storm!
Photo: Tom trying hard on ‘Falconita’ (8b+), Montsant, Catalunya. Credit: Adam Lincoln




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