Sierra Mountain Center Spring2022-05-30T14:54:43-07:00

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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

California Green Business

Spring is here.

Winter is leaving us, the days are lengthening and the trees are blossoming. We are anticipating the Sierra High Country opening up earlier than usual and this will make May and June ideal months to get out before the heat of July and August. We certainly don’t hope for it, but there is also the potential for late summer forest closures due to fire and smoke as we had the last two years. Spring and early summer days will be warm, nights cool, flowers will be blooming and snow will linger. This will be the perfect time to undertake a climb of Mt Whitney via the Mountaineers Route or to get skills for climbing peaks on our ever popular Mini Mountain Camp. Or if you are a PCT or JMT hiker learn Snow Travel Skills or River Crossing Skills to get you through the mountains on your journey.

We are anticipating a stellar summer with a full slate of programs. So don’t delay: call Emma in the office and plan your summer adventures.

Fly to Bishop!

Yes, after years of waiting, you can finally can fly into the Bishop airport. Summer schedules are still being finalized but so far United will be flying from SFO starting in June. Flights will be added as the need and demand is determined.

From the SMC Blog…

Climbing Boundary Peak with Will and David

At 13,147 feet Boundary Peak is the high point of Nevada and something we guide fairly often.
While not hard in a mountaineering sense, it is a hard hike with no defined trail in the upper section, high elevation and lots […]
June 17th, 2022|

Mt. Williamson by Shawna Glasser

Williamson #49- The Long Version
So the story begins…. When you play sports you are taught to go until the buzzer or […]
June 17th, 2022|

Inside the High Sierra

There are a lot of Sierra photographers but none have been more consistent over the years than local Claude Fiddler.

I have done a number of trips with Claude in the high Arctic of Alaska and he has watched Claude haul around large format cameras, huge tripods and then see him […]

June 1st, 2022|

Waterfall Ice Climbing in Mid-may?

One never knows what you are going to get.

On May 11th, 2022 I had to scout snow conditions up in Bishop Creek. I saw a short steep ice flow that I’d seen before but hadn’t got to yet.

I rounded up a strong, young guide with better ice climbing skills, and […]

May 24th, 2022|

Featured Trips

Level 1 AIARE Avalanche courses California

JMT Section Hikes

The JMT is truly one of the worlds great hikes. But not everyone can take the full three to four weeks to do it so we offer sections of the trail ranging form seven to twelve days. These can be self supported backpacks or we can ease the load by using packstock and mules to do the heavy load carrying and take supplies to give a comfortable nights camp. No matter how you want to do it we can help get you into the mountains.

Cottonwood to Whitney
Mammoth to Tuolumne
Mammoth to Yosemite
Bishop Pass to Mammoth
Women’s Cottonwood to Whitney

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.

Mini Mountain Camp

For 2022 we are revamping our ever popular Mini Mountain Camp to take advantage of new routes and locations we have scouted over the years. we will use an area out of South Lake near Bishop that will give you an even better opportunity to get into the mountains and learn the skills to take you higher into the peaks and onward to bigger mountains world wide. We have a day on rock, a day on snow skills and then a day climbing a peak putting it all into use and allowing you to “own’ the skills not just learn them. A perfect stepping stone program.

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. 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.

Veteran guide SP Parker who has lived and guided locally for over 40 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.

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.


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

Register Today!