We feel strongly that training as well as experience is key to a guide's development as a professional. We value the expertise that years of climbing and mountaineering has brought to our guiding but we also recognize that training and evaluation by peers are necessary before one can truly be called a "professional". Therefore we require our guides to show a commitment to their profession by being involved in the American Mountain Guide's Association courses and exams.
Our full lead guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and our assistant guides are required to have taken an AMGA guides course and to have served a lengthy and rigorous apprenticeship under direct supervision of lead guides. We devote a significant portion of our gross each year to the training and professional development of our guides. This training includes sending our assistant guides to AMGA guide training courses, attending biannual medical training courses to maintain certificates, and being involved in the AMGA training process as examiners and instructors. If you compare our level of training and professionalism to other guide services we are confident that you will find our standards to be among the best.
The Sierra Mountain Center, LLC is a limited liability company owned by Robert "SP" Parker and
Todd Vogel who together have over 40 years of full time professional mountain guiding experience. New Zealand born SP is certified in Rock, Ski and Alpine disciplines (IFMGA certified) and has served as a recent director of the AMGA. Todd is an AMGA certified rock guide, a certified alpine guide, and a ski guide for over 20 years; a Grouse Mountain summiteer, a past board member of the American Mountain Guide's Association and a leader in the AMGA accreditation and Top Rope Instructor programs.
In addition to the owners, SMC is proud to be employing the talents of guides who are some of the most experienced professionals in mountain guiding.
Connie Morrison joined us spring 2008 as our office manager and program director. Connie is an accomplished skier and also works with Mammoth Mountain teaching for their disabled sports program. She is the enthusiastic voice you will hear when you call us and she looks forward to helping answer your questions about the Sierra and all the SMC offerings.
Connie is the core of SMC around which everything happens and without her we would be in deep trouble.
Andrew Soleman is originally from Alabama and he will happily tell you that “you can take the boy out of the south, but you can’t take the south out of the boy.”
Andrew left Alabama after high school, drawn west by the big mountains and all they had to offer. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder to study Economics. It was here that he realized his passion for the outdoors and that he was not really the 50-hour a week desk job type. Soon he transferred to Prescott College where he got his BS in Wilderness Leadership and minor in Geography. At Prescott Andrew got a lot of experience traveling and working in the outdoor setting. He lead trips all over the southwest, from 21 day backpacking trips through the rugged canyons of Arizona to expedition whitewater rafting trips down Cataract Canyon, to climbing instruction for Prescott students. His time at Prescott prepared him for a lifetime of traveling into the wilderness whether for work or for play, and revealed to him the true freedom of the hills.
Since graduating, Andrew moved to the eastern Sierra where he has been cutting his teeth for the last two years. He has been guiding for SMC since the summer of 2009, where he began as an intern. This internship took him all over the Sierra, from climbing long alpine routes in the Palisades and Whitney areas to trans-Sierra ski tours, to teaching avalanche course and multi-pitch ice climbing. Andrew is now a full time guide for SMC. In the summer he guides alpine climbing and mountaineering trips, along with teaching climbing and snow skills courses. In the winter he is a ski and ice climbing guide and helps teach avalanche courses. He also works part time for Mammoth Mountain, operating a snow cat and grooming trails for Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.
Andrew has also sought out further guide training from the American Mountain Guides Association. He has taken the Rock and Alpine Guides courses, where he learned the skills necessary to competently guide technical and complex mountains safely and efficiently. Some of his certifications include AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, Avalanche Level II, and Wilderness First Responder.
Andrew favorite climb is the Third Hulk linkup and anything on skis.
Aaron Richards is always having a good time as long as he is in the mountains - whether hiking up Mt. Whitney, skiing the backcountry of Tioga Pass or climbing an airy pitch in the Palisades. He grew up in Oregon and Western Alberta and gained his love of the outdoors in the rainy Cascades and beautiful Canadian Rockies. This is his second year with Sierra Mountain Center.
Aaron is the son of scientists and has a botany degree from Oregon State University. His passion for the environment and the outdoors makes guiding the perfect job for him.
In the last few years, Aaron has completed the Single Pitch Instructor and Rock Instructor courses with the AMGA. He has taken the level I and II AIARE courses, and has used this knowledge to ski all over the western US and Canada. He's looking forward to the challenge of finishing other AMGA courses and is planning on taking a ski course this winter and alpine guide course in the spring.
Ryan Huetter grew up near the coastal tidewaters of the Puget Sound in Washington State, but has since traded moss and rain for the sunshine and splitter cracks of the Sierra Nevada. Since graduating from Western Washington University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Adventure Management, Ryan has called the Sierra home. Beginning with leading extended backcountry mountaineering and backpacking trips for the Outward Bound School all over the range, he finally settled down in Mammoth Lakes to enjoy the unbelievable skiing and climbing the Eastside is famous for.
Ryan’s passion for climbing has taken him around the world, from Yosemite Valley where he has climbed more than 15 big walls including a 9 day ascent of Tribal Rite (5.10 A4), to 4 consecutive seasons in Patagonia where he has made many major ascents including Monte Fitz Roy, technical summits up to 17,100 ft., and first ascents of remote alpine big walls. Ryan has also made multiple climbing trips to Southeast Asia and China, where he has found surmounting cultural barriers almost as difficult as the climbing! But year after year, the Sierra Nevada remains Ryan’s base, and he loves introducing people to the Range of Light. Ryan’s favorite Sierra climb is definitely the Third Pillar of Dana, of course coupled with fish tacos from the Mobil Station. Ryan holds a Wilderness First Responder certification, has taken the AIARE Avalanche Level 1 course, the AMGA Rock Instructor course, and is looking forward to taking his Rock Guide course and Alpine Guide course over the next year.
Todd Miller began guiding in 2002 and has guided ascents throughout the western U.S., Alaska, and South America. He is equally at home jamming granite cracks in the Sierra, climbing frozen waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies, picking his way around crevasses on a North Cascades glacier, or sharing a few stories and laughs around camp. Todd has spent several seasons living and climbing in the Alps, and has also climbed in Norway and Sweden, the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Ecuador, southeast Asia, western Canada, Alaska, and throughout the eastern and western U.S. He is also an avid backcountry skier and has done ski tours throughout the western U.S. and western Canada. He speaks French and Spanish and has an MBA from
Seattle University. Todd is a certified Wilderness First Responder, has completed AIARE Level I and II Avalanche Training, has leadership training from the National Outdoor Leadership School and the Boulder Outdoor Survival School, and is an individual member of the American Mountain Guides Association.
Luke Potter was the SMC intern last year. This year he is back as a guide. Luke grew up in the mountains of northwest Montana. He has always been an outdoor enthusiast, spending his time climbing, skiing, hiking, river guiding, hunting, and fishing. Luke is an undergraduate student at Prescott College, and is in pursuit of a degree in Adventure Education with an emphasis in Wilderness Leadership, and a minor in Natural History and Photography. He is a certified American Mountain Guides Association-Single Pitch Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and has level II avalanche training with the American Avalanche Association. Luke is in pursuit of a career guiding and instructing in the outdoors.
Sam Tyler grew up in Nantucket Massachusetts. He went to College of the Atlantic for a short period of time and after a leave of absence and a NOLS semester in Patagonia decided he would rather spend the majority of his time in the mountains rather than on the ocean. He moved to Alaska and spent a few seasons climbing and guiding in the Chugatch, Wrangell Saint Elias, and the AK range. Since then he has worked both domestic and international trips in WA, OR, ME, AK, Chile, Argentina, and Nepal. He has been on expeditions to Aconcagua, Ama Dablam, Denali, Island Peak, and Lobuje. When not out and about he enjoys hanging out with friends, family and coffee. One of the things he does not enjoy are middle seats on international flights. He hopes to one day have a place where he can call home. Who knows if that will ever happen but the Sierra wouldn't be a bad place. Sam holds a WFR, AIARE level 2, CPR for the professional, is a LNT trainer and is an AMGA SPI.
Glenn Pinson has for years climbed in the Sierra, Cascades, Tetons, Cordillera Blanca, Himalaya and has to his credit 2 (major) routes at the Riverside Quarry.
He has participated in most of the AMGA curriculum, learned things but also managed to have a lot of fun along the way.
He has been guiding in one capacity or another since 1987 and is a paramedic with 16 years of field experience and a rope rescue instructor with 23 years experience.
Glenn's 2 favorite routes (thus far) in the Sierra are the Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag and the East Face Route on Whitney.
For Glenn, it is never about the rocks. It is always about the people. You will find Glenn to be one of the most enthusiastic people around.
Jessica Haist is one of our backpacking guides and originallyhails from Toronto, Canada, Jessica now calls Mammoth Lakes California home. Jessica has a diverse range of interests and is avid skier, rock climber, gardener, mountain biker and generally enjoys being outside in the mountains. She has lived and worked all over North America pursuing various occupations including millinery, fashion, film festival organization, rock climbing instruction and outdoor education. Jessica moved to British Columbia in 2004 to start her guiding career and attend Thompson Rivers University, receiving an Associates Degree in Adventure Guiding. She is certified in avalanche safety, wilderness first aid, technical rescue and rock climbing instruction. She is currently working on her Masters Degree through Prescott College in Adventure Education.
MikePhillips is another east coast transplant to California who hasn't looked back after falling in love with the mountains and deserts of the West. He is a graduate of Oregon State University where he studied outdoor leadership and experiential education. Mike's professional background in outdoor education brought him to the Sierra to lead expeditions for Outward Bound in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. During the winter you can find Mike working as a professional ski patroller at Mammoth Mountain. Mike is a certified Wilderness First Responder and has completed an AIARE level II avalanche course. He enjoys long walks with good people in the high country of the Sierra, and getting out for big ski lines on sunny spring days.
Jimmy Elam is one of our two interns for this year. He graduated from Chico State, CA with a degree in Psychology and was All-American in track and cross country. He found his love for the backcountry after numerous trail runs and backpacking trips after moving to Mammoth Lakes. A couple years ago he bought a book called "Easter Sierra Canyons." and would flip through the pages and whichever mountain pass landed on was the trip for that day .He found that the exploring you can do in the Eastern Sierra is endless!
His favorite Sierra trip would be leaving from Agnew Meadows and taking the JMT high trail to Thousand Island Lake for the first night. The second night after hiking towards the Minarets and setting up camp at Lake Ediza, arguably the most beautiful view in the Eastern Sierra.
Tom Kurzeka is also intern for this year and was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up taking annual camping trips with his family on the west side of the Sierra. He started climbing while studying at Portland State University in Portland, OR and took my first fall at Smith Rock State Park. Since graduating, he has spent the past two winters soaking up the sun and replenishing his Vitamin D count while climbing in Joshua Tree, Arizona, and the Los Angeles area. Last summer he had the great opportunity of living in Yosemite Valley and spinning dough as a pizza slave for DNC. When he was able to make it over Tioga to the East Side knew it was a place he had to dedicate some time to. He am psyched to explore the Eastern Sierra and learn, work, and climb with the SMC community. So far his favorite experience in the area has been the fantastic free climbing in the Tuolumne Meadows high country.