Lessons to Keep in Mind for Your Climb up Granite

Over the last two decades, I have approached, attempted, or summitted Granite Peak a handful of times.  Each time, I learned important lessons on what to do, what to expect, and where to go.  When you’re planning your trip on how to climb Granite, there are few resources out there that are really good guides up the mountain.  Hopefully this article can help you better plan for your ascent.

Let’s begin about 20 years ago when I was but a baby-faced 18 year old.

Granite Peak Montana's highest point scott sery adventure writer

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Food to Carry When Going Light in the Wilderness

Have you ever tried to drop a few pounds?  Maybe something happened and you put on a little weight, or maybe you just let yourself go.  Suddenly you were uncomfortable and you wanted to shed some pounds.  A little diet and exercise can get you there, but if you really want to drop weight fast, head into the mountains.  It’s hard to get the calories you need to sustain, or increase, weight, and you are moving so much you’re burning them faster than you put them in.  After a four day trip I found myself going from 171 to 166.5 pound.  And we didn’t skimp on food either.

training to climb granite peak

Eating while backpacking is a whole new experience.  While it’s great to go completely freeze dried and lightweight, I recommend taking at least a couple of little luxuries.  For me, that often means candy in my trail mix, and a shot or two of scotch for each evening.  Today, as you can see in the video, I have a couple of tips to keep weight down, but calorie intake up.

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What Climbing Gear do You Need for Granite?

There are just 12 more days until it’s time to climb Granite Peak, Montana’s highest point.  First of all, if you’re also planning to climb this mountain, keep up with your fitness regimen!  I looked back through my recorded workouts and discovered that I’ve progressed significantly.

On June 24th, I wore a 30 pound pack and did a 3.4 mile loop averaging 17 minutes per mile.  Today, I did essentially the same loop, wearing a 52 pound pack, and averaged 9:56 per mile.  It’s going to make the hike and climb much easier, and it will make the recovery that much better.

So, today’s workout tip: stick with it.  But we’re going to take a look at gear as well.

What Gear do I need to climb granite peak

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Workouts in the Mountains Suck Less

Getting into mountaineering shape consists of throwing on a pack and running around in the neighborhood.  It builds leg muscle and strengthens the heart to better endure the rigors of actually hiking up the mountain.  But nothing prepares you for a hike, nor has better scenery and experience, than actually getting out there and hiking in the mountains.

For part of my conditioning this week, I threw on a 45ish pound pack, and hiked with the family to Mystic Lake.  The distance was about the same (around 4 miles from the trailhead to the campsite), but the workout was a whole lot more enjoyable when it’s in the beautiful Montana mountains.

adventure writer from Billings, Montana training to climb Granite Peak

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Working Out Sucks

Five weeks into working out and I’ve learned a number of things.  Actually… I’ve reinforced on big perception that I had all along.

Working out sucks.

It’s painful, miserable, and everything I thought would happen didn’t happen.  But, the bottom line is that I am in better shape to climb Granite Peak now than when I first started.

If you’re wondering what to expect with a workout regimen that will condition you to climb a mountain, here’s what I have learned in just over a month.

adventure writer from Montana outdoor adventures granite peak trip More »

How I am Tracking my Fitness Journey

For the past four weeks (two weeks documenting it) I have been conditioning myself to be in shape for an August 2020 ascent up Granite Peak.  Not being one to workout, it’s been a unique experience to discover how to get in better shape.

Over the past several weeks I have tracked my progress, and discovered some things along the way.  Here is where I am at when it comes to my journey toward mountaineering physical fitness.

Fitness Training to Climb Granite Peak Scott Sery Adventure Writer

Dave Swanson climbing in August 2007

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A Journey to Get Back in Mountaineering Condition

When I started my business as a copywriter, I did so in order to have more free time.  I designed the business around being able to live life on my terms, and not on my boss’s terms.  This meant I get more time to get out and explore the great outdoors like I once used to.

The opportunity came up to climb Granite Peak in August 2020, and I jumped on it.  The last time I reached the top was August of 2007 and I am long overdue for a good, long adventure.  There’s one minor detail though.  I’m now 37 years old, and I don’t get out and go on adventures every weekend like I once did.  As much as it pains me (literally, my feet and knees hurt) to exercise and condition myself, I have started a Granite Peak training regimen.

This is my journey, what I learn, and how I progress.

Granite Peak from Avalanche Lake

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Fighting Skeeters on the Way to Kersey Lake

Have you ever zipped up the tent only to find a mosquito stuck inside?


Despite that fact that you’re about 15,000 times bigger, this miniscule insect can drive you bonkers.  It’s a single insect, but it has the power to irritate and exacerbate.  Now imagine hiking along the Clarks Fork Trail on your way to Kersey Lake, surrounded by hundreds, nay, thousands of these irritating bugs.

If the mountains are calling, and you choose to go to Kersey Lake, make sure you bring bug spray so that you’re not eaten alive.  Then you can enjoy the easy 2ish mile trek to a deep lake that is teeming with brook trout in the heart of the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

Outdoors writer Scott Sery from Billings Montana at Kersey Lake

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A Quick Hike to Slough Lake along the Phantom Creek Trail

The bacon was done sizzling.  The eggs were fried.  Orange juice was ready to wash it all down.  Father’s Day morning was well underway, but still not far enough along that the day was shot.  It’s the middle of June, the weather is great, and in the words of John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

The problem: it was 9:30 in the morning already, so a hike longer than just a couple of miles would mean getting home late, the same goes for a drive to the trailhead that’s over 2 hours.  These limitations narrowed the choices considerably, and made the destination an easy choice: Slough Lake in the East Rosebud Valley.

Phantom Creek Trail

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Exploring the Big Snowy Mountains Near Billings

When going on adventures in Montana, I generally aim for the Beartooth Mountains.  They’re close, they’re big, and they can be seen from Billings.  Why venture farther away when there are many miles of wilderness to explore just south of town?

I finally broke down and got the All Trails app for my phone.  Not the paid version of course, but the free one.  It opened me up to finding other adventures that are nearby, but outside of my usual adventuring spots.  Justin came up from Texas for a long weekend getaway and to experience a little snow in the Big Snowy Mountains.

Big Snowy Mountains in Montana

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