The Wandering Earth – Cixin Liu

The Wandering Earth - Cixin Liu
The Wandering Earth – Cixin Liu

I can’t remember where I saw the recommendation to read Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem. I still haven’t, but I did spot The Wandering Earth on my last flying visit to the Barbican Library, so I picked it up.

First published in 2000, The Wandering Earth is an anthology of short stories, some of which have won China’s Galaxy Award. A couple of common themes stood out for me – alien first encounters and humankind’s need to leave the solar system. A lot of humour too.

Publisher’s page: The Wandering Earth – Cixin Liu

Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffat

Space Below My Feet - Gwen Moffat
Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffat

I’m afraid I abandoned this autobiography, and I’m rather ashamed to admit that.

I feel that I ought to have relished reading about the life and achievements of Gwen Moffat (still going strong at 93), who made a living from climbing and writing from the 1940s onwards, becoming the first female British mountain guide in 1953, and wrangling marriage and motherhood alongside it all.

But I gave up after Boats and Babies.

Publisher page: Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffatt

Gwen Moffat // Interview with Emily Pitts. Published on Women Climb, 10 January 2014

Give Me Space Below My Feet: Is it possible to take the legendary climber 93-year-old Gwen Moffat back up into the mountains? Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 “Between the Ears” on 30 September 2017

Yr.No’s Wonderful Weather Forecasts

Having  umm-ed and ahh-ed over adding this into my Manaslu & Tsum: Update blogpost, I decided that Yr’s Wonderful Weather Forecasts merit a blogpost all of their own.

Yr – Yr.no – has been my go to website for trek and trip weather for a while now. It describes itself as “a joint service by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation”.

I am absolutely amazed by Yr’s coverage – I’ve found dedicated forecasts for all these places on our November trek to Tsum and then on around the Manaslu Circuit:

Initial section into Tsum and back

Arughat
Lapubesi
Dobhan
Philim
Lokpa
Chumling
Chumchet
Chhule
Ripche (Ripchet)

Manaslu Circuit on from Tsum

Prok
Hinanggaun (Hinang / Hinang Gaun)
Lho
Samagaun (Samagaon / Sama Gaon)
Samdo
Chamje / Chyamche (back on the Annapurna Circuit)
Syange

As well as the less surprising…

Pokhara
Kathmandu

and the more unexpected

West Nepal
Manaslu (8156 m) – “Other” as in “Mountain”, prompting me to look for…
Himalchuli (7893 m)
Ngadi Chuli (7871 m)

It’s not just the geographical coverage that impresses, the graphics, features and functionality do too.

Now that I’ve added these locations as “My Places”, I can see a super summary forecast for the next 3 days, and click throughs to the hour by hour and long range forecasts, all on one page:

Yr.No screenshot - My Places - Manaslu & Tsum
Yr.No screenshot – My Places – Manaslu & Tsum

As well as three flavours of forecast – showing summary icon and hover over narrative eg “partly cloudy”, temperature (including “feels like”), precipitation and wind speed & direction – and sunrise and sunset times, the Overview page has a map plus, at the bottom, latitude and longitude (degrees and decimal) and altitude, and a link through to Google Maps. And information about the place name including how it’s represented in other languages. AND a link to free weather forecast data (Javascript- or XML-forecasts):

Yr.No screenshot - Weather Forecast for Chumchet, Nepal
Yr.No screenshot – Weather Forecast for Chumchet, Nepal

Just to underline how amazing this all is, that screenshot is the Overview weather forecast for Chumchet, West (Nepal), which I visited during my Tsum Valley Trek in April 2015.

This is Chumchet:

Chumchet
Chumchet – Tsum Valley Trek – April 2015

Here it is on Google Maps:

And for completeness, here’s what you get when you click through to some of the other data sets  Yr has to offer for Chumchet:

Hour by hour weather forecast for Chumchet – includes a Meteogram:

Yr.No screenshot - Hourly forecast for Chumchet, Nepal
Yr.No screenshot – Hourly forecast for Chumchet, Nepal

Detailed hourly weather forecast for Chumchet – adds in pressure, humidity, dew point and cloud cover:

Yr.No screenshot - Detailed hourly forecast for Chumchet, Nepal
Yr.No screenshot – Detailed hourly forecast for Chumchet, Nepal

Long term weather forecast for Chumchet – gives you a summary and detailed forecast for the next 9-10 days:

Yr.No screenshot - Long term forecast for Chumchet, Nepal
Yr.No screenshot – Long term forecast for Chumchet, Nepal

Why look anywhere else?

Manaslu & Tsum: Update

Val was back in the UK as usual over Christmas and the New Year, which provided a perfect opportunity to flesh out some of the detail of this year’s big trek.

The main development is that we’re going to spend a week in the Tsum Valley before backtracking a little to rejoin the Manaslu Circuit at Gampul.  I’ve changed my working pattern this year, so I can squeeze in a four week trip, and the other people Val’s been talking to about coming on the trek are keen to combine the two.

I loved the Tsum Valley Trek that Hazel and I did with Anthony, Val, Chhiring and crew, just a few weeks before the devastating April 2015 earthquake. I don’t doubt that at times it will feel uncomfortable being back there.

From Chhiring’s updates, the road may now reach as far as Laububensi / Lapubesi (लापुबेसी), so hopefully there will be a fewer days of hot slog up the Buri Gandaki Khola (aka Budhi Gandaki Khola) at the start. There’s also flexibility to allow for high side trips and LED solar light distribution, and no doubt some medical assistance from Steffi.

Here’s the rest of the outline itinerary we’ve had from Val, plus approximate altitudes from the Himalayan Map House Ruby Valley / Ganesh Himal Map, Wikipedia and Manaslu Circuit Trek:

Day 01: Arrive KTM
Day 02: Kathmandu (काठमाडौं) (1400 m) to Sotikhola (सोती खोला) (597 m) or Laupubensi / Lapubesi (लापुबेसी) (880 m)
Day 03: Trek Dobhan (दोभान) (1050 m)
Day 04: Trek Lokpa / Lhokpa (लोक्पा) (2240 m)/(1905 m) or might stay in Philim (1570 m) or Chisapani (1620 m)
Day 05: Trek to Chumling (चुम्लिंग) (2385 m)
Day 06: Trek above the valley Chumchet area (चुमचेत) (3200 m)
Day 07: Trek to Gumba Lungdung / Gompa Lungdang (3200 m)
Day 08: Trek to Chule (छुले) (3350 m)
Day 09: Trek to Mu Gompa (3700 m)
Day 10: Descend to Chule (छुले) (3350 m)
Day 11: Trek to Chumling (चुम्लिंग) (2385 m) or Chekampar / Chhekampar / Chhaikampar (छैकम्पार) / Chhokang Paro (3030 m), if possible via Ripchet (2470 m)
Day 12: Trek via Deng (2600 m)
Day 13: Trek to Prok (प्रोक) (2397 m)
Day 14: Trek to Lhi and deliver solar lights for Chak and extra replacements for Tsak
Day 15: Trek to Hinang
Day 16: Above Hinang
Day 17: Trek to Sama Gaon / Samagaun (सामागाउँ) (3500 m) via Lho (ल्हो) (3180 m)
Day 18: Above Sama Gaon / Samagaun (सामागाउँ) (3500 m) to visit the Phuyang / Pung Gyen Gompa (3870 m) below Ngadi Chuli (Peak 29) (7871 m), Himalchuli (7893 m) and Manaslu ( मनास्लु) (8163 m)
Day 19: Trek to Samdo and visit school (3860 m)
Day 20: Trek to Yak Kharka above Samdo
Day 21: Day trip above the Kharka
Day 21: Trek to Dharmasala (Larkya Phedi) (4460 m)
Day 22: Cross Larkya La pass (5135 m), descend to Bhimtang / Bimthang (3720 m)
Day 23: Trek to Tilje / Tiliche (2300 m)
Day 24: Trek to Chamje / Chyamche (1430 m)
Day 25: Drive to Pokhara (पोखरा) (830 m)
Day 26: Pokhara spare day
Day 27: Pokhara to Kathmandu
Day 28: Depart KTM

A flurry of flight booking excitement after Val confirmed dates; Steffi and I now have tickets on Air India via Delhi. Charles is going to DIY.

Roll on November!

Fool’s Quest – Robin Hobb

Fool's Quest - Robin Hobb
Fool’s Quest – Robin Hobb

Joy and loss for Tom Badgerlock – he finally finds the Fool after years apart, but an attack on Withywoods destroys his sanctuary and sees the kidnap of his small daughter Bee …

… and the Witted Bastard returns from the dead, as Tom / Fitz is finally, formally recognised as Prince FtizChivalry Farseer, cousin of the king and instrumental in the survival and success of the Six Duchies.

Wonderful!

Author’s page: Fool’s Quest – Robin Hobb (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy 2)

(and I’ve just realised the the UK cover illustrations are by the same Jackie Morris who collaborated with Robert Macfarlane to create the beautiful The Lost Words.)