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Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service.

Located in Bishop, California SMC offers rock climbing, summer mountaineering, waterfall ice climbing, backcountry skiing, emergency training, summer and winter instruction and custom guiding in the Eastern Sierra of California.

Sierra Mountain Center


We are past the equinox now and the days are warming. Mountain bluebirds back with flashes of blue across the meadows. And best of all we are heading towards spring corn season. As skiers this is the snow that comes close to powder. Ego snow – you get to ski things steeper than you thought you could. Work is starting shortly on plowing the Rock Creek Road and the Tioga Road to the Yosemite Park boundary. So keep in touch with us as we get more news since this will open up a lot more high elevation terrain. But with our limited snow this will be a short corn season so get on it.

The low snow year will also mean that the hiking and climbing season will open up earlier. Early season Whitney climbs will be perfect with snow covering up the talus and making for great climbing. If you don’t have the snow and crampons skills needed get them first with a one day Snowskills Course.

High Sierra Backcountry Skiing

Sierra Spring Skiing

Winter is leaving and it is the time of year we start to think about spring skiing on Sierra corn snow. Warm days, cool, calm nights and easy-to-ski “ego” corn snow makes this our favorite time of the year.

We are tracking the plowing and opening of the roads such as Rock Creek and Tioga, which once open, will give us easy access to the best the Sierra has to offer.

Overnight tours, or long day trips – we have it all. Don’t wait since this might be a short spring season before summer arrives.

Contact us for Spring skiing!
High Sierra Backcountry Skiing

Rock Creek Ski and Board Basecamps

In a normal year we would be using our hut at North Lake as a ski basecamp. But 2020 and this winter has been anything but normal! Covid-19 complications shut down the hut.

So we got special approval from the Forest Service to operate a snowmobile-supported basecamp in Rock Creek Canyon. This canyon has long been know as a mecca for backcountry riders.

Here’s how it works: we haul supplies and your pack to a tent basecamp at a select location off the snow-covered road 5 miles from the road’s end. From here it is daypacks out and back to your “socially distanced” camp. These trips are on a private basis: you choose the date, your bubble of friends and family; for how long you want, and when. We are super excited about this option to get you into one of our favorite areas of the Sierra.

Contact us to set up a basecamp!

Sierra Mountain Center & Covid-19

Inyo County Covid business compliance

We reopened on 5/27/20, taking procedures seriously doing it correctly to protecting our staff and you as well. This has involved a lot of discussion and interaction with other professionals to feel our way down the best path.

Please read more about our precautionary measures and know that we are doing our best to protect our clients, staff, and community.

There are other guide services offering trips in the Sierra Nevada.

So why do we believe that you will get the most out of letting us be your guides?

We are knowledgeable and local

We are the oldest, most established local guide service. The Eastern Sierra has been our home for over 40 years. These are the mountains where we love to climb, hike and ski. There are no working guides who know the Sierra as well as we do, from the popular paths of the Sierra, but also the little-known places where we have been exploring new routes, tours and remote summits. We know the best routes and the small details that make for a successful trip. When you call us and ask what conditions are, we simply look out our office window and give you up to date information.

We literally help write the books on climbing. “High Sierra Climbing” by Chris McNamara, of Supertopo – “Eastern Sierra Ice” – self-published by us and the “Climbers Guide to the Bishop Area” by Maximus Press.

We are qualified

We believe in the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) programs and the level of quality assurance that they give you in choosing a guide. Our climbing and mountaineering guides are trained and certified by the AMGA. Certified guides have demonstrated before his or her peers high levels of competence and judgment as well as fulfilling technical requirements such as emergency medical certification, rescue training, and snow stability forecasting. Guides certified in rock, alpine and ski gain the international (IFMGA) credential. This IFMGA credential gives us the ability to provide guides to work in other IFMGA member countries such as those of Europe.

Our groups are small with low guide to participant ratios

Large groups can detract from the learning process and the wilderness experience. We work to keep ratios as small as practical, and our small groups give you more of what you came for: skiing, climbing and exploring the Sierra.

Our Programs are All Inclusive

Scheduled trip prices are all-inclusive (except for any rental equipment). Overnight backcountry programs include permit fees; group equipment such as kitchen, group technical gear, first aid supplies and avalanche beacons and good backcountry breakfast, lunch and dinners.

We are an AMGA Accredited Business.

AMG Accreditation is a process that reviews operational guidelines, staffing, permits, and insurance helping to insure professionalism by self-evaluation. It is a means of quality assurance and external review that examines such important business practices, compliance with state, federal and local regulations, staff training and professional development, resource stewardship, and adherence to current industry standards. This credential represents a commitment to excellence through exemplary operating standards and an adherence to the highest ethical standards. We are proud to share this credential with some of the nation’s most recognized and respected guide services, climbing schools, and educational institutions.


SMC supports LNT and abides by LNT principles on our programs.
Leave No Trace is best understood as educational and ethical guidelines, not as a set of rules and regulations.

Take the next step and join us in the mountains for a wilderness adventure.

Register Today!