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Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service.

Fall is here in the Sierra

We love Fall. It is our favorite time.

The days in the Owens Valley are cooling down, the leaves are changing to yellow and gold and an early season snowfall might dust the peaks with a coating of white bringing a promise of  more to come. But just because the ideal time for the high peaks is gone it does not mean that there is nothing to do. Quite the opposite and just because Labor Day and the official end of summer is past does not mean that the days here are not perfect for adventuring.

We suggest some Sport Climbing in the Owens Gorge or closer to Southern California Climbing in the Alabama Hills, a place we believe is equal to Joshua Tree. Or up your skills with Learning Anchoring Skills or get the knowledge to get yourself and your partner out of a jam with a Self Rescue Course.

Plan ahead and call the office for registration. Don’t miss out on making the fall of 2019 the best ever.

We look forward to seeing you in the mountains.

Tenaya Canyon Fall Descent

Tenaya Canyon offers a fantastic combination of hiking, scrambling and rappelling or lowering into the little seen heart of Yosemite. We start early from the Sunrise Trailhead in Tuolumne and descend vast slabs of granite into the spectacular narrows of Tenaya with cascading water and cold crystalline pools of water to wade and swim. Passing below the walls of Mt Watkins and Half Dome we end at Happy Isles late in the day. A trip for the connoisseur of the Sierra.

Contact the Office

Red Rocks Climbing Fall 2019

Red Rocks Conservation Area, situated conveniently close to Las Vegas offers some of the best moderate climbing in the country. We are lucky to have one of the coveted temporary permits and from October 19-22 have a campground reserved and guides available to show you around to have you experience some of the best of the best. Space is limited to contact the office for more information as soon as possible.

Space is limited – contact us today!

Wilderness First Responder And Recertification

Taking care of yourself, your party or others you may encounter in the backcountry is an essential part of being a responsible backcountry user — even in these days of pushing an SOS button and waiting for the cavalry to arrive and save you. What happens if the cavalry does not come or the helicopter cannot fly? Skills you learn in a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Course will give you confidence to cope with emergencies. Even if you have taken a course previously, you should keep those skills honed with a Recertification Course.

WFR Course
wFR Recertification

Avalanche Courses

It is not too early to start thinking about winter and getting the skills to enable you to make good decisions in the snowy backcountry. We offer a wide range of courses that cater to the novice backcountry user, the person wishing to brush up rusty skills, or someone wishing to expand their skills. If you have taken a Level I course before consider our “Guardian Angel Course” where you take the lead, organize the group and make decisions, but have an experienced guide looking over your shoulder and shepherding you through the often complex process.

Learn More about Avi Courses

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.