Koyo Zom Kit List
In Autumn 2019 Tom Livingstone along with Uisdean Hawthorn, John Crook, Will Sim and Ally Swinton headed to Pakistan to attempt un-climbed lines on the north side of Koyo Zom. Ultimately Uisdean, John and Will spent several days trying a new line tackling the north-east ridge but had to turn back due to poor snow conditions and deteriorating health. Tom and Ally took a different line, on the north-west face, and summited after 5 days on the route. Here Tom talks us through the kit he used.
Words by Tom Livingstone
These keep your legs and torso warm, prevent cold spots around your waist, and have a long zip for calls of nature.
I wore this as a base layer in an attempt to save weight. It has long sleeves and thumb loops to keep your hands warm, and a wrap-around hood which feels cosy on cold bivies.
A new down jacket which, somehow, is warmer and lighter than previous models! It weighs less than the Vega jacket (which I used to wear), and is much more weather-proof thanks to the Gore Infinium drop-outer. This minimises wind penetration through the stitching on the baffles, and is better when spindrift starts pouring. The baffles have also been re-designed to keep the down exactly where it’s needed.
This prototype jacket features the same weight of insulation as the Transition jacket (80g/m2) but is slightly slimmer and lighter. It’s the ideal mid layer for alpine climbing at 6000 - 7000 metres, and kept me warm throughout. I’m glad I could wash it afterwards, too - it stunk!
You need all-weather protection on a big alpine route, so hard-shells are the way. Both of these items combine Gore-Tex Pro and Paclite Plus to give durability where it’s needed, and lightness and increased breathability everywhere else.
A simple, waffle-grid beanie to keep your head warm.
Synthetic over-trousers which keep your legs warm on bivies, and can be worn whilst climbing. I wore these pants whilst seconding blocks of pitches, and was really glad I brought them. The temperatures were ‘fresh’ in the shade!
These ‘lead gloves’ were perfect for the more technical pitches, and the gauntlet means they stay tucked under your jacket. This keeps your wrists warm, and thus your hands.These were my main climbing gloves, and I wore them for 90% of the route. The Gore-Tex kept my hands dry and the leather palm is grippy on your tools. They’d be totally perfect if they had a gauntlet.
I wore these on belays, put them on my feet on bivies, and put them over the top of my Couloir gloves on the summit day, when it was windy and cold. They’re synthetic so it doesn’t matter that they’re compressed when you wear them, and if you rip them you don’t have down floating everywhere!
This prevents draughts going down my neck.
Axes - Of all the Petzl axes, I use the NOMIC most frequently. I think it’s the perfect technical alpine tool, and this is the type of climbing I enjoy most. Our new route on Koyo Zom looked steep and hard. The Nomic has a comfortable grip for when the climbing is sustained, but you can still use it as an ‘all-mountain’ axe to hammer in pitons or when walking up the final summit slopes. I also had an Adze on one axe, to cut small ledges for our bivies.
Crampons - I’m excited to use the new Darts, but for this trip I used the current versions. Like the Nomic, I take them on most of my alpine routes, and I’m always pleasantly surprised about what I can stand on - they’ll stay on the smallest edges. The new models have replaceable front points and anti-balling plates, which are useful additions. There was steep, bullet-hard ice on Koyo Zom, so I was grateful to have mono points, which nicely fitted into my axe placements.
Harness - the SITTA has everything I need. It’s lightweight, thanks to the fixed leg loops and wireless technology. It’s (relatively) comfortable. It’s also got neat gear loops, which can be adjusted to your preferences, and two ice clipper slots. Simple, but sorted.
Rope - Ally and I took a ‘single and tag’ system. This means climbing on a single, 9mm rope like the Volta Guide, and having a 6mm tagline (RAD line). Having one rope at the belay keeps things simple, and as long as you’re careful of sharp edges, you can climb with confidence. Because we anticipated hard climbing and to be in the mountains for about a week, we had heavy packs. Climbing with them would be rubbish and slow, so we hauled the packs using the tagline and Micro Traxion.
Tagline - The 6mm RAD line worked well. I’ve used this very rope in Alaska, the Alps, Patagonia, and now Pakistan, and it’s still in good condition. If it was any thinner, it would’ve been painful to haul two heavy packs. The hyperstatic nature of the cord makes it ideal for this purpose, and it has a low (22g/m) weight.
Rack - We took almost an entire double set of cams, with some of them being BD Ultralights. We also took a set-and-a-half of WC Superlight wires.
Quickdraws - we took about six of Ally’s quickdraws, and six of my longer ones. I used ANGE L carabiners with PUR’ANNEAU 60cm slings, which gives the flexibility of clipping the ‘draw short, or extending it. Since we had only a single rope, we took a few more of these sling-draws than normal, to prevent rope drag
Slings - these are useful for building belays, using on spikes, and hauling the packs from a central point. We took three PUR’ANNEAU 120cm and two 180cm slings. It’s ideal that they’re lightweight, but still thick enough to handle and clip.
Pegs - We took a selection of LIVANOS and V CONIQUE pegs for thin cracks. We didn’t take many in the larger sizes, since this would be covered by wires and micro cams. Sometimes a peg is the only protection you can find, so I almost always take them. They’re also inexpensive to bail off. Ironically, I don’t think we placed a single peg on this route!
Extra Carabiners - Loose carabiners are always used building belays and hauling packs, so we took several ANGE L ‘biners. We also took a few SPIRIT screwgate biners for the essential points. The Spirit is the lightest screwgate Petzl make.
Ice Screws - A selection of LASER SPEED LIGHT ice screws meant we could move together up the initial icefield, build belays on the mixed ground, climb steep ice pitches, and then make V-Thread anchors on the descent.
Micro Traxion - We took one each, because this meant we could safely simul-climb for up to 180 metres up the icefield, we could haul the packs efficiently, we could easily rig our snow hammock, and we had them for glacier travel. As it turns out, I was incredibly grateful I had a Micro Traxion on my harness for the crevasse rescue!
Belay Plate - When used in ‘Guide Mode,’ the REVERSO means you can eat, drink, take photos and check out the next pitch, all whilst belaying the second.
Helmet - I was curious about the SIROCCO helmet, since it was the lightest I’d ever seen. I’ve now worn it on hundreds of routes and climbed thousands of metres with it, both in summer and winter. It gives comfortable protection.
V Threader, Cord and Knife - These are all useful bits of kit. The V-Threader was for making ‘naked/ghost’ threads in the ice (we rappelled about five pitches during the descent). The cord was Petzl 5mm accessory cord, useful to rig the backpacks so they hauled smoothly, and would’ve been useful if we had rappelled over mixed ground. The knife is for the cord, and cheese.
Leashes - Nobody wants to drop an ice axe, especially on a big route. These leashes usually sort themselves out if they get tangled, too.
Double Sleeping Bag
This improved version was perfect for us. It weighs about 1 kg. It has an enlarged footbox, lots of down on the top and only lightweight fabric underneath, and two cowls so you can cinch the material around your head, keeping the warm air inside. It saved us 1 kg, as otherwise we’d have taken two Fireflash bags (at 1 kg each).Roll Mat - I prefer sleeping on an inflatable mat, but I thought this route might have rocky bivies, so I didn’t want to risk a puncture. Foam mats are light, simple, can be clipped to a belay, and encourage you to get up in the morning! (They’re not very comfortable).
Single-skin Tent - this BD Firstlight has been through many, many miserable bivies since I got it in 2012. There’s nothing better than getting into a tent when the weather’s howling. It’s warmer, plus you can keep you stuff (relatively) dry and organised.
Other ItemsI really like the simplicity of this pack, which can be stripped down to weigh only a few hundred grams. It’s comfortable to carry, is relatively weather-proof, and survived being hauled up hundreds of metres of sharp alpine granite.
Boots - La Sportiva G2 SM double boots, with two pairs of Smartwool socks.
Rock Shoes - one pair for me, slightly oversized so I wouldn’t get frostbite and lose my toes!
MSR Reactor Stove - An efficient burner which melts snow fast. Ally rightly suggested taking a 1.5L pot, which was better than the 1L size. We took ‘an amount’ of gas canisters, but I can’t remember how many now - it’s always better to have a bit extra! To keep the gas canisters warm, investigate copper piping or putting the canister in an empty freeze-dried sachet full of hot water.
Food - Ally and I had a Firepot meal each for the first few evenings, then shared one after that. These meals were calorific and easy to digest. We had porridge for breakfast and bars/fruit and nut mix for lunch.Headtorch with Spare Battery - This is essential, and we took one spare torch between us in case we dropped one. I used the REACTIK+ and only changed battery on about the fourth bivy. I like the look of the new SWIFT RL - 900 lumens!
Sunglasses - the Julbo Shield model with Custom lenses were great. The lenses are super nice, which react to the available light levels. These glasses also give good wrap-around protection, are comfortable to wear for days on end, and can be fitted with a cord loop so they can’t be dropped.
Randoms: Suncream, spoon, Betrafol repair tape, camera, loo roll, Suunto Spartan Ultra watch, 2L MSR Dromedary water bottle, lighters.