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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


The days in the Owens Valley are hot and we have already hit 100 plus degrees. But up high in the Sierra the days are warm and the nights are cool making for perfect hiking and climbing conditions. This summer is looking to be busy and trips are filling quickly. So plan ahead and call the office soon. Avoid missing out on what promises to the best summer ever as we emerge from the darkness of Covid into better times.

Summer is here so recharge your soul and experience the Sierra Nevada in the company of one of our talented guides.

John Muir Trail supported thru hike

Hike The John Muir Trail

200 plus miles long over some 23 days through the heart of the Sierra from south of Whitney to Yosemite National Park, the John Muir Trail (JMT) is maybe the most famous of all the Sierra Nevada thru-hikes.
We know the route well and have the logistics sorted out after decades of guiding it. This allows to you to focus on what you’re coming for – the scenery and beauty that exemplifies the Sierra.

July 13-August 4
August 9-31
September 3-25

High Sierra Backcountry Skiing

Beginning Backpacking for Women

Never been backpacking before but want to get out and discover what it is all about? Don’t have a partner to go with or just don’t want to go with the guys? SMC’s Women’s backpacking 101 might be for you. We take an easy pace with time to relax, enjoy the scenery, and make moments last. Your guide will offer tips on how to make the most of the outdoors and clue you in to skills and ideas you need to range a bit further on future hikes.

August 13-15

John Muir Trail Section Hikes

Bishop Pass to Mammoth Backpack

Don’t have time for the whole John Muir Trail at once? Split it into segments and hike a little each year! The Evolution Valley area has been long considered a highlight segment. This hike takes us over Muir Pass and down into this area of huge peaks, iridescent lakes and grassy meadows. Some big climbs and descents pale into distant memory when you sit and watch the sun fall into the hazy west surrounded by scented pine trees and golden granite.

July 31-August 8

Contact SMC and Get Outside!

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!