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Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service.

Winter Mountaineering Skills

Winter Mountaineering

Dream of bigger peaks worldwide? Expand your climbing skills into a new environment with our Winter Mountaineering Program. Learn ice skills and how to climb rock in bigger boots on a climbing outing near Mammoth.

Winter means frozen waterfalls!

Ice Climbing

Our backyard has the best Ice Climbing in California. It might be cold, but it’s likely to become your new favorite winter activity. We can take you from beginning climbs & courses to the hardest climbs Lee Vining Canyon offers.

Winter is here in the Sierra

February was a record February with well over 200 inches for the month on Mammoth Mountain. Now as we go into March the storms keep coming with several more feet forecast for early March and we are still powder skiing! The teaching conditions for our Avalanche Courses have been outstanding with a lot of interesting and problematic layers to observe in the snow pack. The ie climbing has been great and the approach is easy with feet of snow covering the talus for a change. We are anticipating a fantastic spring touring season so make sure you plan on getting one of the best ski tours on earth scheduled for late March through May.
Don’t let winter slip by without renewing your avalanche certificates, taking a Sierra hut trip, learning the basics of backcountry skiing or maybe making a winter ascent of Mt. Whitney. Not a skier? We’ve got snowshoeing, and ice climbing. Want to go big? Check out our multi-day backcountry ski trips.  But what if you aren’t a downhill person? We’ve got adventures for you too.  Check Out ALL OF OUR WINTER PROGRAMS

2019 is already a great season.

We look forward to seeing you in the mountains.

Avalanche Education

Avi Courses

Headed out into the backcountry this winter? If you are new to it, consider a Level I course. Skills rusty? Then take the Avi Refresher. Want to up your knowledge and become more of a trip leader? Then take our hut-based Level II course. But no matter — know “How to Go” before you go.

Backcountry Hut Stay

Backcountry Hut Stay

We are lucky to have our own hut at North Lake out of Bishop and offer winter and spring round Hut Trips. Winter days can be cold and the nights long, but our hut is a comfortable warm place to stay in. Make day adventures from the hut with options for skiing and snowshoeing for all levels of enthusiast, including the whole family.

Learn more about hut trips

Spring Ski Tours

Spring Ski Tours

We believe that the Sierra Nevada has the best backcountry spring tours to be found anywhere in the world. Long days, fine weather fantastic corn snow, few people and endless scenery. What more do you want? Join us for a Spring Ski Tour from March into May for everyone from beginner to advanced.

Add a porter to your trip

Add a porter to your trip

Tired of the big loads and want to take it easy? We can provide a strong young back to get things to camp while you take it easy with a daypack. In, out or both.

Ask the office how

Sierra Mountain Center

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

Sierra Mountain Center

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 nearly 30 years and these are the mountains where we love to climb, hike and ski. There are few 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.



Tired of the big loads and want to take it easy? We can provide a strong young back to get things to camp while you take it easy with a daypack. In, out or both. Ask the office how to do it.

Leave No Trace (LNT) logo

Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.

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

Register Today!

What Our Clients Say

It was perfect. Andrew is an excellent guide; I can’t imagine better. I’ve done four trips with SMC, all of them A+.
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.
We would use SMC again in a heartbeat and recommend your service to anybody looking to do a trip. Thanks again!
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.
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.
AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, any variation of adjectives. On a scale of to 10, an 11.
Tim & Phil
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!!!

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

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.