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Tim & Alex take on the Mountain Goat Circuit

This weekend Tim Fransis and Alex Banks took on the Mountain Goat Challenge, what an on for the full experience in Tim's words......

"It's been really hot here, I've been in shorts and t shirt all day, I've even got a tan line!" were not our words but those of Alex's wife, Harriet, who he called after we completed Snowdonia's new fell running round, "The Mountain Goat Circuit" (MGC). We were surprised to hear news of balmy weather as the Welsh conditions were, well, differently barmy. Or maybe we were barmy to be up fells in it. 

The route was created by RAB and The Climbers Shop/Joe Brown . It starts at Joe Brown's Capel Curig store and makes a sausagy loop back to the shop of 50km with 3800m of ascent. It's got 3 sections which get rougher, tougher and longer as they go. First up Moel Siobod and down, second, the Snowdon group and lastly the fantasy rock fest of the Glyders. 

Section One

The long and short is we went up, we went down. It took 2 hours and in that time we had got so wet and cold we had to strip off and change into spare layers in Pen-Y-Pass youth hostel. At 9.30am. Good start.

Section Two

Now donning new base-layers, full waterproofs, synthetic down jacket, 2 pairs of gloves, two hats and a buff we bumbled up into the waiting storm. We went up a massive rocky mountain, we went down, up another of the above, then down. Rinse and repeat. We were getting rinsed. But we needed a spin cycle to dry off really. 28km and 2000m climbing into the day we were sizing each other up to see who would be brave enough to pull the plug (on our round not the virtual power shower/bath in a wind tunnel that we were in). What we decided on was to take stock in Llanberis. This involved hiding in the Spar shop and buying stock in the shape of snickers, crisps, sandwiches, coke, water etc. We next went to Joe Brown's Llanberis shop (definitely not procrastinating further) where Alex bought some more clothes so he was warm enough to get round.  When we went back outside I had chilled to the bone and it was...still raining. 


...we decided to keep going.

Section 3

Tiddly dum de doo we pottered off into the clag with vague hopes of some weather not being so weathery. Which it kinda did for a while then revealed it was teasing and we returned to the soundtrack of torrential rain battering on coat, holding our hoods across our faces. Up and up and up and up and quad shriekingly up we went until there was only a little bit more up and we got to the top. Then we went down and up and down...then we were tired. And cold. A little pow wow to check we were being sensible and.....

....up we went into the toughest, slowest, most technical ground of the whole thing: the shattered boulder fields of the Glyders. On the return journey Alex admitted he hadn't been able to feel his feet. My knee was hurting too, I panicked the naggin pain in my foot was a stress fracture and on we went.

We slid, hobbled, minced and jogged back down out of the horror show weather to Joe Brown's in Capel, took photos and stopped our watches. Sodden, exhilarated and satisfied, Alex called Harriet and you know what she said.

Post run

Pizza, shower, camper van and oddly calm and sunny evening looking back up at the innocent looking peaks that were so savage hours before. We reflected on our love of fell running for how it's just as, if not more, satisfying slogging round in terrible weather, fumbling with numb, mittened fingers for gels and cheese sarnies as it is going fast on a good weather day. And we got to go shopping twice.

A shout out to Joe Browns staff for being really friendly when we went in to collect our pleasingly retro badges and proudly take our spots (in 4th/5th place and therefore at the bottom of) the leader board. 

Mountain Goat Circuit — The Climbers Shop / Joe Brown Blog (

Go do it!

As a footnote, what we did and the decisions we made sound good for a story. But we did have to exercise our judgement about what was safe considering the conditions, the terrain, our skills, knowledge and experience....and what kit we had with us.

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