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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
OUTSTANDING, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, any variation of adjectives. On a scale of to 10, an 11.
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 [...]
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
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
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,
We just returned home from our trip to Whitney via Cottonwood and I wanted to express my sincere thank you for putting together such a fantastic trip. Honestly, it will be one to remember forever. Above all, Marie and Luke were outstanding. Their expertise, encouraging words, ability to pace us and sure friendship was the ticket for success!! They both did a wonderful job supporting my 14 year old son through the peaks, teaching him about the backcountry and making the entire trip fun. We are putting together pictures and will be sure to add SMC to the email. Still flying, Rhonda
The White Mountains of California are truly fantastic. This unique range became wilderness only two years ago. It is high alpine desert and this year was marked by a profusion of flowers with fragrant phlox scenting the air. This year we had only one client, Robyn from Monaco (she hiked the JMT with us last year) but three guides, SP, Luke and Ryan.We start slowly up Cottonwood Creek. This is totally unexpected oasis of trees and meadows at above 10,000 feet on the crest of the range. We camped here one night and then stopped to visit friend Dori at Barcroft Station where she cooks (she even came over in [...]
Connie, Andrew, and SP, I'm just now back in touch with e-mail, so it's the first opportunity to say thanks for the Bear Creek Spire trip and for the flexibility in rescheduling. It was perfect. Andrew is an excellent guide; I can't imagine better. I've done four trips with SMC, all of them A+.
Hi Connie, 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.
I'd like to thanks you for my successful summit. Nate did a great job of guiding; he's definitely a professional and I highly recommend him for anyone looking to attempt this route. As a former employer I know how hard it is to find good help. My compliments to you!. I found the climb quite challenging. There was a little bit of everything; stream crossings, crampon use and rock climbing. Getting to the summit was as much fun as actually arriving there. I'll be climbing with you again sometime.
Just got back from CA on Sunday and I wanted to drop you a quick note to let you and everyone at SMC know what a great trip we all had (Mt. Whitney - Mountaineer's Route - June 17-19). For me and my boys it was a first rate experience that we will never forget. I can't say enough about Nate and Aaron and the job that they did guiding us, and the others on our journey. Those guys are true professionals. From my perspective, there's no greater compliment. Sunday night, in Mammoth Lakes, the whole family went out for pizza and it was fantastic listening to Teddy, Aaron, and [...]