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Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier guide service and mountaineering school.
Located in Bishop, California SMC offers guided hikes, 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

California Green Business

Fall is here.

This is our favorite time of the year. Days are warm, nights are brisk and cool and the trees are changing colors. The busy time in the backcountry is over and the trailheads are empty visitors. We live for these days and it is the magical pause between the end of summer and the start of winter. So if you are thinking that summer passed you by and you have missed your opportunity that is not so and you can still join us for a trip in the mountains or low elevation rock climbing in ideal conditions.  This will be the perfect time to undertake a climb of Mt Whitney via the Mountaineers Route or perhaps Bear Creek Spire.
Get out and learn rock climbing or expand your skills though our Rock Climbing School. Or if you want a quick peak ascent this is a perfect time to climb to the high point of Nevada and Boundary Peak.
No matter what get out there and enjoy the montains. So don’t delay: call Emma in the office and plan your fall adventures.

Fly to Bishop!

Yes, after years of waiting, you can finally can fly into the Bishop airport. United is flying from SFO and more flights will be added as the need and demand is determined. Flights are now paused for the fll but will resume in December.

Featured Trips

Rock Climbing on Premier Buttress

Fall Rock Climbing

The Eastern Sierra is known world wide as a climbing destination and people come from everywhere to experience our “backyard”. We have a tremendous range of rock types and locations in a small area and every day can take you somewhere new. We offer courses and climbs for everyone form beginner to expert and we have the guides to get you out there having fun. Check out our Rock Climbing School or call the office to get even more options.

Winter Mountaineering Courses in California

Half Dome

Is there a more iconic peak than Half Dome? Is there anyone who cannot recognize this Yosemite feature?
While the ascent is certainly demanding, even more demanding is the arduous process to get a wilderness permit. The SMC office does this hard work for you and we still have a couple of spots for an early season ascent starting from wither Cathedral Lakes or Sunrise Lakes. We take three to four days for this journey and don’t just rush to get the top ticked off but savor this classic ascent and hike.

Temple Crag via the Celestial Arete

An afternoons walk up beautiful Big Pine Creek will take you to a camp below the spectacular peak of Temple Crag. Three great routes rated from 5.7 to 5.10a await you and if you are feeling very strong maybe even two of them. Get high up in the crystal fall air of the Sierra above beautiful green lakes with a guide who knows the way and can show you how to manage the ropes on the Tyrolean Traverse on Sunribbon Arete

Contact SMC

Get outside for a learning adventure!

Sierra Mountain Center & Covid-19

Inyo County Covid business compliance

We continue to take Covid mitigation measures seriously. We always want to do things correctly to protect our staff and you as well.

Please read more about our current 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 with a continuous history of one owner since the 1990s. 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. You are not calling someone if a far-off city or state.

Veteran guide SP Parker who has lived and guided locally for over 42 years is at the helm of SMC. He sets the standards required of SMC guides and works to mentor and train them in the long tradition of Sierra Guiding of which we are proud to be a part of and to continue.

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.

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 support Leave No Trace


SMC staff are trained in and abide by Leave No Trace (LNT) principles on all our programs. LNT is best understood as educational and ethical guidelines, not as a set of rules and regulations. If you are unfamiliar, we will teach you.

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 for the terrain they work in. 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.

We are an AMGA Accredited Business

American Mountain Guides Association 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. Learn more

SMC is the only locally-based AMGA Accredited guide service.

As an AMGA Accredited Guide Service in 2022 we are bound to hold our staff to the AMGA “Scope of Practice” That sets out the appropriate terrain for a given level of training. Other non-accredited guide services are not bound by this professional standard. We believe in it and hope that you do to in choosing us over those who are not bound by this professional standard

We completed our re-review in December of 2021 and the reviewers concluded:

…. Sierra Mountain Center serves as a model for a small guide service operating in alpine, rock, and ski terrain in the U.S. Documents reviewed reveal not only sound field practices, but also a solid grasp of business operations, including an understanding of and compliance with state and federal labor laws and land use regulations. Feedback provided by field staff was positive overall. Staff were appreciative of the training and mentoring opportunities that are available to them. They stated that they felt respected and that communication with the owner is excellent. They left the impression that Sierra Mountain Center is an outstanding business to work at.

Land/permit managers contacted stated having a very good working relationship with the company owner and guides. Several expressed appreciation for the owner’s input and assistance with updating their agency’s land use management plans.

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What Our Clients Say

I call and instead of a guide running the company, there is actually an office manager who handles the business side and lets the guides handle what they do best. This woman was phenomenal. This was Tuesday before I left and we talked about the plan, hired the guide, signed the contracts, discussed the gear, and everything within 3 hours. Every question I had was answered within 30 seconds of asking. I was feeling really good about this decision.
Shawna (on climbing Mt Williamson)

In 2017 we tried the Mountaineer’s Route, (with another guiding company), and made it to Upper Boy Scout Lake. Coming from Michigan and lacking the time to properly acclimate, we were not feeling well.  We decided not to overpush and go for the summit.  I said to Whit, we should try this again, but give ourselves more time.

Fast forward to 2020, I booked our trip with SMC and it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding guiding companies. They guided us through the sign-up process and helped us prepare. They answered every question we had and when Covid came and an earthquake hit 1-1/2 weeks before departure, SMC still found a way to make it happen safely and with the utmost professionalism

Rick and Whitney

I want to thank your Team for a great Climb on Mt. Whitney this past week. Aaron and Luke did a fantastic job for us. These two young men were friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful. It was a pleasure having these two guide us on the mountaineers route. At every step along the way, Aaron and Luke made us feel as if our success, safety and enjoyment was their top priority.
Connie has been extremely helpful and responsive in setting up details of this climb.
I would recommend these guides and your company to anyone wanting a first rate experience. This was an outstanding adventure I will always remember.
Thank you all for helping make it so.

Brian
We would use SMC again in a heartbeat and recommend your service to anybody looking to do a trip. Thanks again!
Steve
I want to thank my guides for two awesome mountaineering adventures. Their knowledge, professionalism, and preparedness made both trips a rewarding and unforgettable experience. Please share this email with them and thank them for me.
Angelo
It was perfect. Andrew is an excellent guide; I can’t imagine better. I’ve done four trips with SMC, all of them A+.
Peter
We had a feeling that SMC was a very competent organization from the way you handled your job and we were not at all disappointed.
René and Chris
I just wanted to thank you both for making our climb up Mt. Whitney an absolutely fantastic experience. You guys were terrific and the trip couldn’t have gone any better. I have been talking about it nonstop since getting back and have recommended it and you guys to several friends at home and at work.
Jim
I wanted to email you and tell you how amazing of a time we had climbing Whitney this past weekend! It was one of the most exciting things I have ever done, and I am so glad we had the opportunity to experience such an adventure! Both our guides were outstanding! They really knew what they were doing, I learned so much about climbing and the mountain itself, and I really trusted and felt safe climbing with them. Their leadership really made the trip so fun and do-able! I can’t emphasize enough what an AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, AND AWESOMELY FUN time we had on the mountain!!!
Kirsten
AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, any variation of adjectives. On a scale of to 10, an 11.
Tim & Phil

The entire group was impressed with Ryan’s technical expertise and leadership qualities. It’s a rare combination that lent itself to calming (group) stress, while providing quiet motivation and instilling confidence in the face of challenging conditions. Dave seems to share the same unique set of qualities that helped develop trust and support for everyone to reach their goal. I don’t know where you find these guys, but when people are literally entrusting their lives by believing in their leaders’ guidance, capabilities and decisions, it’s a rare talent indeed

Karl
Just wanted to say thanks for everything. The climbs were great and so was the service. You handled the scheduling (and changes) quickly, kindly and professionally. Aaron was also great — he is a very skilled guide and also very professional with people and logistics. Thanks again for a great experience.
Bob

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