Tom has rapidly become a leading Alpinist with first ascents and big routes everywhere from the Himalaya and Karakoram to Alaska, Patagonia and the Alps. With a love of all aspects of climbing he operates at a high standard on rock, ice and mixed, as happy on big lines at altitude as he is cragging closer to home in the Chamonix valley.
I’m psyched for big and inspiring routes around the world - from high alpine objectives to cool trad lines. I've devoted myself to this way of life, which blends a nomadic lifestyle with a constant desire for ‘more.' The bigger and badder the route, the greater I’m drawn to it.
If I could stereotype two experiences, I’d choose being high on a remote mountain which has caught my eye - perhaps it’s the difficulty, the altitude or the shape of it. The peak is cracked by snow and ice, and my partner(s) and I have been climbing for several days, in complete trust, totally 'going for it.' This experience is so real: the commitment, the adventure and the psyche is about as adventurous as life gets. Secondly, and equally, I’d choose the trad sea cliffs of Gogarth, North Wales. I’m always keen for long pumpy routes high above the waves, the sun burning my neck, pulling hard on the crux and gunning for good holds.
I’m naturally very psyched and full of energy so it’s never hard to justify climbing. I enjoy everything about ‘moving upwards,’ from the endorphin release to the physical and mental challenges - and the views from the top, of course! You can call it what you want: obsession or escapism, but I think it’s just brilliant.
I treasure the raw emotions at the end of multi-day alpine route, the satisfaction of a hard-won onsight and the flash of magic as the sun sets behind distant peaks. Climbing hard routes or first ascents often involves so many unknowns and challenges, so it can be a fight and easy to surrender. I’m usually rewarded for trying hard. Good hooks or the ‘thunk’ of the axe biting into solid ice will come. Remember, the limits are all in your mind.
I value integrity and style. Climbing is a personal endeavour, but it also relies on honesty. You not only set a standard for yourself, but also for others. This applies to what you climb, how you climb and where you quit. That’s why I like getting to the top of routes and the beauty of a good sandbag. I’d much rather let my climbing speak for itself; I'd rather my first ascents in the UK, Alaska and Karakoram indicate boldness and adventure. Since there’s more to life than climbing, I also appreciate good parties and writing. My ambitions are relatively simple: to climb for longer with less; to place more gear but faster; and to one day be content with always wanting more, and what has been.
The routes that mean the most
Latok 1 (7145m) with Aleš Česen and Luka Stražar. Karakoram, Pakistan
A great journey with two good mates, where many stars aligned. We had plenty of luck over our seven-day ascent and found the fastest, most logical alpine line from the north side.
The Great Game (6872m) with Ally Swinton. Hindu Raj, Pakistan
I’ve always wanted to take difficult rock, ice and mixed climbing to high altitude, and this route was a step in that direction. We climbed E4 or E5 pitches at over 6300 metres with Gogarth-esque exposure.
Rare Lichen (E9 6c) Ogwen Valley, Wales
I’ve onsighted many E6 and E7 trad routes but I couldn’t choose a single ‘favourite’ because they’re all amazing, rich experiences. Instead I thought I’d choose a route where I felt ‘in the zone’ although it’s a headpoint.
Fun or Fear with Uisdean Hawthorn. Mt.Jezebel, Alaska
A brilliant experience with Uisdean, where we threaded an intricate ice and mixed line up the east face of Jezebel over two days. It was one of the stand-out experiences of many years climbing together. The unknown of what we’d find round the corner was memorable.
House/Anderson Route with Uisdean Hawthorn. Mt. Alberta, Canada
One of the early ‘big routes’ which I’ve climbed, and a good step up for Uisdean and I. Climbing in the Rockies has such an adventurous, mentally-challenging feel. We both actually fell off on lead during our two-day ascent!
Five bits of essential kit
- Tupilak Atmo Jacket- lightweight, all-weather protection which gives me one less excuse to stop!
- iPod Shuffle - a few tunes for getting me psyched in the morning, or sending me to sleep on shiver bivies.
- Peanut butter - delicious, calorific, perfect in a bagel with banana and jam… what’s not to like?
- Kryos jacket - somehow warmer, lighter and more weather-proof than all previous versions, and in my opinion ’the’ high-alpine insulation jacket.
- A perfect forecast, ideal conditions and a psyched partner - that’d be great!
More from Tom
Read more about Tom's latest alpine ascents and projects.
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Young Alpinist Group
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