Blog

Update on Runoff in the Sierra

The Department of Water Resources has updated the predictions for run off. The maximum runoff dates have been pushed back and later due to cooler temperatures in the Sierra and unsettled weather with small storms moving through and frequent thunderstorm activity that seems to be ongoing. Kern River at Isabella, May 17 PCT mile approx. 690 Kaweah River May 14 To West of PCT Kings River May 17 PCT mile approx. 774 San Joaquin at Millerton, May 21 PCT mile approx. 880 Merced River at Happy Isles May 20 On the JMT Tuolumne River May 31 PCT mile approx. 917 East Walker River June 10 PCT mile approx. 978 If [...]

By |2019-06-06T10:38:06-07:00May 5th, 2019|Condition Reports, SMC Blog|

Spring and Early Summer in the Sierra Nevada for JMT/PCT Hikers and other Backcountry Users

  The winter of 2018/19 is on its way out and spring is here. Despite the media hype, this was not the biggest snow year ever. But looking at monthly totals from Mammoth Mountain, where the snows came early — February was the biggest February on record Nov 55 inches Dec 26 inches Jan 93 inches Feb 207 inches March 68 inches April 7 inches up to 4/11/19 Total: 456 inches Although winter has not yet fully gone, compare this to winter of 2016/17 where Mammoth reported 617 inches and 2010/11 with 668 inches. What is different is where the snow fell. This winter there has been more snow at [...]

By |2019-06-06T10:38:15-07:00April 24th, 2019|Condition Reports, Hiking, SMC Blog|

AIARE Pro 1 Avalanche Course: A Guide’s Experience

Since our regional avalanche forecasting center, Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center (or ESAC), started issuing its advisories on the first of January, we have seen “considerable” to “high” danger ratings more than fifty percent of the time, with more than a dozen days so far receiving the latter rating. For some, this might seem unusual for the Sierra considering its reputation for stable snow conditions. But consider the facts: there have been problems with our snowpack since the beginning of winter due to a prolonged dry and windy spell after our first real snowfall last Thanksgiving. We have even seen multiple instances of buried surface hoar, which is rare for these [...]

By |2020-06-01T07:48:57-07:00February 23rd, 2019|SMC Blog|

Kalymnos

It was late one night in July of this year, I was messaging a few friends and tossing around an idea for this year’s off season “retreat”.  Some may say that my job is a retreat or a sort of vacation already. I now have numerous arguments against such claims, but this story is not about making that point and trying to establish the legitimacy of a career in outdoor pursuits. I just want to share with you a vacation of my own, the places I dream of when the temperature starts dropping and snow fills the mountain passes. This idea began last year when I organized an “alumni” trip [...]

By |2020-06-13T10:54:09-07:00December 30th, 2018|SMC Blog|

The Titan

The book, 50 Classic Climbs of North America, came out in the early 1980 and was then, and still is now, a collection of the great climbs from a classic era. Some of the climbs are not so great and there are climbs that are better, but these all have history behind them and are a great tick list for any modern climber. In the 1980 there were few guidebooks and the descriptions were short, vague and sometimes wrong. But I started using the "50 Classics a guide to the best climbs in the USA" and slowly got to some 35 or so out of 50. Problem is that the [...]

By |2019-06-06T10:38:35-07:00December 30th, 2018|Rock Climbing, SMC Blog|

Technical expertise and leadership qualities

I just wanted to mention 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

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00June 2nd, 2015|What Our Clients Say|

The Four by Four

Most of the big climbs I do in the Sierra are thanks to my friend Ian McEleney. He comes up with stupid ideas and I’m dumb enough to join him. Well, payback is a bitch: When I came up with the idea of stacking Peter Croft’s “Big Four” alpine routes car-to-car and back-to-back in four long days, Ian felt obligated to return the favor. The following is an account of our time on what we dubbed the 4x4. Day 1: Keeler Needle CtoC: 15.5 hours FA: Warren Harding, Glen Denny, Rob McKnight and Desert Frank, 1960 FFA: Galen Rowell and Chris Vandiver, 1976 Heading to Keeler [...]

By |2020-12-26T12:27:15-08:00July 13th, 2014|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

Mount Patriach – Kauhurangi National Park New Zealand

I (Sp) am back in New Zealand for a few weeks and filling it with some hiking, climbing and enjoying the country.The great thing about NZ "tramping" is that there are lots of tracks, fantastic views and a great hut system. The bad thing is that there are lots of biting sandflies, rain and nothing is easy. But sometimes rewards are directly proportional to effort.With my brother-in-law Martin I did a two day hike up to kiwi Saddle hut, up Mount Patriach and down to John Reid hut and out down Chummies track. The huts here are small 6 bunk ones, basic but shelter and no need to carry a [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00January 15th, 2014|SMC Blog|

Hokitka on West Coast in New Zealand- Jan. 2013

The Wet West Coast West side of the South Island has always had a reputation. Annual rainfall here can be up to almost 60 feet of water. The forest is rainforest and often a battle to get through. Rivers come up and people are stranded for days. A bridge on the main highway washed out here three weeks ago after over two feet of rain in six hours. So getting around is a problem. With a flight to catch in a few days I could not afford to get stuck so I took a short hike up to the Mt Brown hut, a short but steep four hour hike. In [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00January 16th, 2013|SMC Blog|

Mt. Owen aka Moria in New Zealand

Mt Owen aka Moria Jan. 2013 Owen is the high point of Kahurangi National Park and also had a moment of fleeting fame as one of the settings for Lord of the Rings. Even has a summit dragon. More importantly it has a wonderful new hut and spectacular limestone karst terrain and is about an hour from my sisters home in Motueka. About 3-4 hours for the roadhead to the Granity Pass Hut. I got there under clear skies and since you do not want to miss any such opportunities in NZ I headed on up the peak. The route follows rolling tussock covered hills and then into eroded rock [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00January 15th, 2013|Hiking|

Tapuae-o-Uenuku You don’t have to pronounce it to climb it.

Tapi is the highest point in New Zealand outside of the main Divide and I have wanted to climb it for over 40 years. So I connected with an old friend Penny, from the old days of university back in the 1970s, and she flew down from Auckland and we made a quick trip since the forecast was fine for a few days. It is in the Kaikoura Mountains on the east side of the northern part of the South Island and in the rain shadow of the biggest peaks so although a dry environment there are sill rivers to deal with and the approach is 22km up a river [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00January 8th, 2013|SMC Blog|

Rene and Chris Whitney Via Cottonwood 8/26/12

My wife Chris and I want to tell you what a fabulous experience the Whitney Cottonwood trip was. Much better than we hoped it would be. It was one, if not the best, vacation experiences we have ever participated in. Our leaders, Aaron and Jessica were marvelous--patient, caring, helpful, knowledgeable, and good-humoured. In addition, they are terrific cooks. We never expected to eat so well! We can't say enough good things about them. And Max Kozak the packer was a delight as well. In addition, we want to thank you for all the terrific advice and help that you provided to us before departure. We had a feeling that SMC was a very competent organization from [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00September 19th, 2012|What Our Clients Say|

Boundary Peak 9.2.12

Boundary Peak is the high point of Nevada and we get a number of people who are doing all of the high points of the 50 states wanting to do it. This was the case with Jayme and Don Holcomb. This was a warm up before Whitney, but with no good  trail and the dry desert air this might actually be harder. We stayed at SP's Nevada place just on the other side of the highway the night before and got a dawn start up the trail, watching the sun come up over the ranges tot eh east. We were 4.5 hours up and 2.5 down which is a great [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00September 3rd, 2012|SMC Blog|

Pack-supported JMT

We have been working with Rock Creek Pack Station to set up the JMT in stages as a pack supported trip. This allows people who want to do the JMT but do not want the heavy packs to spread the journey out over four years and to have a relaxed memorable vacation along the way. This year our first section was from a start at Kearsarge to a finish at Onion Valley. Along were Geoff Snyder, Donna Smith, Mardi Swords, Martha Moore, Phil Moore and SP as hiking guide. We also had a full time cook Andy and packers Mark and Terri. The trip started with some ran and thunderstorm [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00September 3rd, 2012|Hiking, Whitney|

Hiking with Pack Stock. The JT Part I; Cottonwood to Onion Valley.

We have been working with Rock Creek Pack Station to set up the JMT in stages as a pack supported trip. This allows people who want to do the JMT but do not want the heavy packs to spread the journey out over four years and to have a relaxed memorable vacation along the way.This year our first section was from a start at Kearsarge to a finish at Onion Valley. Along were Geoff Snyder, Donna Smith, Mardi Swords, Martha Moore, Phil Moore and SP as hiking guide. We also had a full time cook Andy and packers Mark and Terri.The trip started with some ran and thunderstorm activity that [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00September 3rd, 2012|Hiking, Whitney|

Brian on his Whitney Climb 6/4/12

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 [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:29-07:00July 30th, 2012|What Our Clients Say|

Tom on his Mount Whitney trip 7/10/12

The summit to Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineer's Route was amazing. Sam is a great guide and we were fortunate to have him lead our group.  Daniel and I will have this special memory forever and I want to thank you for your patience with all of my calls and answering all of my questions. I hope to do another tour with SMC. Todd

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00July 30th, 2012|What Our Clients Say|

Clarence King, Mt Cotter and Mt Gardiner with Linda Emerson 7.2012

This is the eight trip that Linda and SP have done as Linda works her way to completing all of the Sierra Peaks list. We intended to do this trip two years ago and then last year, but things got in the way. The third time was however a charm and went just perfectly with no fuss and no drama. Just what a guide wants. We were slated to go in on Monday using the services of Pine Creek Pack station, but that day was stormy and unsettled so we delayed a day - much to the joy of Cricket, the packer, who had just come out from a big [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00July 30th, 2012|Alpine Climbing|

Mt. Emerson 13, 225′ July 4, 2012

Some of the Sierra Mountain Center team went out on July 4, 2012 to check out Mt. Emerson 13,225'.  There are several different approaches.  We decided to climb the SE Face.  Short approach for this fun alpine route on solid rock.  Leaving the Piute Pass trail before Loch Leven Lakes-  Route climb the 5.4 crack ( great hand holds) then continue up class 3-4 to the traverse up high.  The traverse is amazing, every 10-20 feet you move the scenery is different, miles of mountains and lakes.  This is a great day climb.   Mt. Emerson is a good climb to challenge your skills, learn new skills and take [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00July 6th, 2012|SMC Blog|

What our Clients are saying: 2012

Dear Connie: My recent trips with SMC (Boundary Peak & Mount Whitney) were incredible! I want to thank my guides (Ryan, Jim, Andrew, & Sam) 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. I also want to thank you for your professionalism and for just being so nice in preparing and scheduling these two trips for me. I would certainly recommend SMC to anyone looking for a great outdoor experience, and I will also put a post in the Highpointers Club's Newsletter recommending your guide service for Boundary and [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00June 19th, 2012|What Our Clients Say|

Skiing Canada’s Wapta traverse

Over the years John Miller has done a bunch of trans Sierra ski trips with SMC. Given this year's low snow fall in California it was just as well that we decided to head north to Canada to do a hut to hut ski across the Wapta Traverse out of Lake Louise in Alberta. Along on the trip were John's sons Cooper and Rob, Marc Shea and SMC guides SP Parker and Andrew Soleman. We met in Calgary and headed out to Canmore the first day.  SP and Andrew had arrived the prior day to get everything organized and food shopped for. Day two was a little delayed due [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00April 12th, 2012|Backcountry Skiing|

Jim on his Mt Whitney climb 8.11

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.

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00August 20th, 2011|What Our Clients Say|

Steve on his climb of the East Face of Whitney 8.11

Joe and I are just a couple days removed from an awesome trip up the East Face of Mount Whitney.  Aaron was our guide and did a fantastic job from start to finish and made the experience really fun.  We would use SMC again in a heartbeat and recommend your service to anybody looking to do a trip.  Thanks again,

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00August 13th, 2011|What Our Clients Say|