As well as great mountains the east side of the Sierra also has an enviable wealth of rock climbing: white granite at Whitney Portal, the pocketed volcanic rock of Deadmans Summit, sculptured domes at Granite Basin, and the well known Owens Gorge. Just out of Bishop, the Buttermilks are one of the most aesthetic places anywhere to learn the basics of rock climbing, just a stroll from the car.

Regardless of the time of year, there’s always a place to climb in the Eastern Sierra.

Sierra Mountain Center is your “one stop” for acquiring rock climbing skills or for just getting out onto the rock and having a good time climbing. Our rock climbing program offers a complete progression from the basics to what we believe to be the most complete self-rescue course available.

We divide our programs into two types:

“Acquiring the Skills” These are programs that get you started with the fundamentals.

“Applying the Skills” These are programs that get you out using the skills you acquired in the initial courses and putting them to use, solidifying them and practicing them.


Acquiring the Skills

Rock I: Introduction to Rock Climbing — Easy technical top-roped climbing
This is the first step in discovering climbing and is a one-day foray to give you a taste of what it is all about. The aim is simply to have fun on the rocks. All you need to bring is lunch and enthusiasm and we will provide everything else.
Trip length: 1 day | Physical Difficulty: Low

Rock II: Introduction to Multi-pitch Climbing — Easy technical multi-pitch climbing 5.5-5.6
Once you’ve gotten some mileage on the “blunt end” of the rope by climbing a bunch and learning the basics of protection placement and anchoring it’s time to take it out onto longer routes. This course starts with protection removal and keeping yourself organized on longer routes. Then we take put it to use on a multi pitch climb, coaching and learning on the way to a perfect summit.
Trip length: 1 day | Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Rock III: Introduction to Anchoring — None. All ground school.
If you have been climbing for a while, on a variety of routes and wanting to learn more skills, then anchoring and gear placement is the next step. In this course we teach all the skills important to becoming an all round solid rock climber. Starting with basic anchoring and protection placement, we will continue into more difficult and complex situations aiming for the safest, most solid anchors we can create.
Trip length: 1 day | Physical Difficulty: Low

Rock IV: Introduction to Leading — Easy lead climbing
Lead climbing is quite a bit different from following: you are in charge of keeping yourself safe, as well as route finding and belaying the second up. The heart of leading is solid gear placement skills and we aim to make sure you leave with these by the end of the program. We have a complete progression that starts with tuning your placement skills, taking placements and making anchors, strategies for lead climbing, managing belays, and contingencies such as rappelling and the basics of self rescue.
Trip length: 2 days | Physical Difficulty: Moderate

Rock V: Self-rescue Training — None. All ground school

Do you know what to do should your partner fall and get hurt? Too few climbers do. Instead of relying upon outside help and assistance, we should all take the responsibility for being in the mountains and climbing safely by being prepared to do a self-rescue if necessary. Raising, lowering and belay escapes are all integral parts of this, but are all skills that are nearly impossible to learn from a book. The only way is hands on practice and we aim to include plenty of this as well as discussions of how to avoid getting into this situation to start with.

Trip length: 2 days | Physical Difficulty: Low

Applying the Skills

A Day on the Rocks — Moderate technical top-roped climbing.
If you have climbed before but perhaps it has been a little while, or maybe you are visiting the area and want to get outside and climb. We can fill the day with routes at your skill level and show you what we have to offer in the Eastern Sierra and get you back into the climbing routine.
Trip length: 1 day | Physical Difficulty: Low

Multi-pitch Weekend — Technical multi-pitch climbing 5.7-5.9.
If you have climbed longer routes before and want more of it then this program will give you it. We have two great climbs chosen; Premier Buttress at Whitney Portal and a route on Cardinal Pinnacle out of Bishop. Each route is about 4-5 long and also gives us the opportunity to work on multi-pitch skills and organization for even longer routes.
Trip length: 2 days | Physical Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Sport Climbing weekend — Technical single-pitch climbing
Indoor climbing is a rapidly growing aspect of climbing and the next step from the gym is to take it outdoors and onto real rock. The Owens Gorge has established itself as one of the best places for sport climbing in California. Unlike many other locales, the Gorge has an abundance of moderate climbs and provides an ideal place to learn to rock climb in the outdoors or to expand your skills and push your limits on steep rock with large, positive holds. In the summer when the weather becomes too hot in the Gorge, we move up to the higher elevations of Rock Creek Canyon, with its granite crags, and the pocket tuff of Deadmans.
Trip length: 2 days | Physical Difficulty: Moderate