Koyo Zom - Behind the Images

Expeditions to the Himalayas are special for so many reasons; the bustling cities with all their vibrant colours, the exciting driving, the high mountains, the different culture, and the incredibly friendly people. There is always so much to take in and it's very easy to be looking at something interesting but all of a sudden without thought, your focus slides onto the next blaze of culture, contrast and colour. I particularly enjoy taking photographs on these trips because it forces me to focus on one thing and really notice the details of what I'm shooting.

Below are five of my favourite images from my most recent trip to Pakistan. Whilst they are all good one or two I’m more proud of because they provoke my memory right back into an experience of adventure over them being a technically perfect photograph.

After a short two hour walk from the roadside village of Koyo Zom we arrived at our base camp spot. Our base camp was beside some villagers' summer huts where they stayed whilst their herds of sheep and goats grazed on the higher hill side. No westerners have ever approached the mountain from this side and our arrival at the camp produced a fair amount of excitement. At first the women and children were very shy and didn't know what to make of us. The girl in this photo was one of the first to start being confident with us, keen to join in when we started throwing a tennis ball around. This image captures her character perfectly with her grown up posture, gazing out confidently at the world with her little brother still not sure about us. It wasn’t long until they were all out trying to talk to us but we could only communicate through drawing as even our base camp staff only shared a few words of their local dialect. The little boy in the background of this photo, took great delight when Tom played him some techno.

Fine lines

John leading more black ice with sugar snow, much of what our attempted ridge line consisted of. This image is good for one simple reason, it has lines and they all point up!

Will and I cramped in the back of the tent whilst John took his turn melting snow at the door.


We were all feeling pretty beat up. The look on Will’s face sums up climbing at higher altitudes better than any climbing photo can. The effects and emotions of trying hard and pushing yourself in the mountains isn't something you can recreate.

Room with a view

Our third bivi was in such a unique position. At first glance we thought it was going to be an uncomfortable night. However, with the use of the snow hammock Mountain Equipment had made us, we turned this bum cheek ledge into a space where we could all curl up and lie down. It ended up being really comfortable and one my most memorable bivis ever. I have this image on my wall and it gets people asking questions.

Taking good photos of the duffle shuffle is actually quite hard. I've spent a lot of time snapping photos of bags being thrown on yaks, dragged through airports and train stations but they often look staged or are too messy. I had been through quite a bit in the last seven days (six days of climbing and 24 hours of rescue coordination madness) and all I wanted was to get in this Land Cruiser and sleep. Maybe my tired brain helped me to think simply and rather than trying to get photos of people loading the bags, I just waited and took a photo of some bags in a jeep. Doesn't sound like it would be good but I think it's the best duffle shuffle shot I've ever taken.

More from Koyo Zom

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.

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