A spectacular start to this year's winter season in the Karkonosze Mountains. A lot of snow in the upper part and beautiful, sunny weather. I hope it stays that way until spring.
While in Granada, I spent some time in the "moon-like" looking mountains of Sierra Nevada. I managed to climb a few summits, including the highest in Spain-Mulhacen,
3478 m.
It would take years to see and appreciate Spain. We limited ourselves to a few places
from a long list of "must see while in Spain". Two things that really stuck out for me were Seville, and the Joan Miro Gallery in Barcelona. The biggest disappointment - tickets to the Alhambra, in Granada, need to be purchased at least two weeks in advance (who knew!).
I think we will go back soon though. After all, there is still a lot to see, including Madrid.

After leaving Benasque we crossed the whole Iberian Peninsula and ended up in the Portuguese Algarve province, near the Atlantic. There was a bit of sightseeing but lying
by the pool was our favorite activity.

From Andorra we went to the Spanish Banff - Benasque. Beautifully situated, the town
is an ideal base for exploring the Pyrenees. The weather was not that good, but I was able
to use one decent day to summit the highest mountain in the Pyrenees and the second highest peak of Spain, Aneto - 3404 m.

From Italy, with a short stop in Monaco and longer one on the Cote d'Azur, in France,
we went to Andorra. The sixth smallest country in Europe is famous for cheap alcohol and spectacular ski resorts, but it has a lot to offer even in the summer. A dense network of well-maintained hiking trails allows easy access to the Andorran Pyrenees. I spent a few days in the mountains, and managed to climb the highest mountain in Andorra - Coma Pedrosa, 2943 m.

Late in the summer we decided to go to the Iberian peninsula. We had a lot of time, so the trip was slow and the route quite complicated. After visiting several places in the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia we ended up on the island of Krk, in Croatia. A longer stay on the island (as was planned) didn't make sense due to the not very exciting weather.
So we moved on to Italy. In Italy everything was right (except for the gas prices) :)

Kotlina Jeleniogórska (Jelenia Góra Valley). One of the most beautiful places in Poland.
Lots of tourist attractions and a great place for all kinds of outdoor activities. Come for a visit! :)
A few pics below.

A new life experience. Wielka Pętla Izerska in Szklarska Poręba. The highest and (according to some) the hardest half-marathon in Poland. A combination of street run with a mountain trail run. I survived. Result: 2 hours 8 minutes 11 seconds.

Immediately after our arrival in Kiev we went to a bar and celebrated the fact that Ukraine was my 80th visited country, by sampling some good, local beer. Yeah!

On the way back from Georgia we stopped for a few days in Kiev. A very interesting city worth visiting. Beautifully restored historical monuments (mostly religious), lots of parks and spectacular girls on the streets... :)

Another tragedy in the Himalayas - Artur Hajzer died on Gashebrum I.

Georgia is the perfect starting point for Armenia. Unfortunately, the Armenian-Turkish and the Armenian-Azerbaijani borders are closed, so to get closer to Mount Ararat, only 40km away and visible from Yerevan, one needs to go back to Georgia, and from there proceed to Turkey. Stupid politics. Yerevan is interesting but kind of lacking character, due to the semi-modern, early-communist architecture. A lot of sites (churches/monasteries mostly) are outside the city, so you might want to book a couple one-day trips in a travel agency.

Our first trip to the Caucasus region. We visited Georgia. Very interesting place, lots to see and do. Excellent wine. Fortunately the country is rather small so you can experience a lot in a few weeks. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to do any trekking in the famous Svanetii area. It will be a reason to visit again :)

I Half-Marathon in Jelenia Góra . A little bit warmer than Sobótka. Despite a brutal rain
I managed to have a really good (at least for me) result: 1 hour 43 minutes 15 seconds. Yeah!

For the second time I ran the Half-Marathon Ślężański, in Sobótka. Two years ago
I complained about the weather. This year was even worse. Minus 10 in the wind and
ice cubes in the cups of water. Result: 1 hour 56 minutes 14 seconds.

In the era of smart phones, tablets, satellite phones and other wonders of technology, when everything is exposed to the immediate view and criticism of the public, it is easy
to forget that in mountaineering reaching the summit is only the halfway point of the journey.
On March 5, Adam Bielecki, Arthur Małek, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski climbed the summit of Broad Peak (8047 m), in the Karakoram. It was the first winter ascent and another spectacular success for Polish climbers. Unfortunately, Maciek and Tomek disappeared during the descent.
My condolences to the families. I had the opportunity to meet both of them; Maciek during my time in Zakopane, and Tomek at the base camp of Lenin Peak in 2011.
Of course, the media circus has already started. As always, the people who don't know what they are talking about have a lot to say. Sad.

Our first winter in the Karkonosze Mountains. Although not as outdoorsy as planned (unfortunately, boring side of life steals a lot of time) we can't complain. A few pics below.

All the best in 2013!!!