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Clarence King and Gardiner Basin Ski Tour

Seems like this year spring comes and goes, with a day of spring followed by a day of winter. But it is ski tour season so Sp and Chris set off with John Miller, His son Rob, Pascal Poignard, Chrixx Finne and Dan Silverberg on May 6th from Keasarge Pass. Our route took us over the Pass the first day and down towards Charlotte Lake where we camped the first night. The next day we ascended to Glenn Pass and then dropped to the Rae Lakes drainage. From here three passes (we called them small ridge crossings before we did them and passes afterwards) and into Gardiner Basin to a [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00May 16th, 2011|SMC Blog|

A Guides Day Off; Skiing Mt Ritter

At this point in life one would think that I would take days off at a beach somewhere with drinks in tall glasses and little umbrellas in them. But no, have to go skiing. Friend Jen Giraud and I had talked for years about skiing Mt Ritter the prominent peak visible from Mammoth. A fantastic peak with the history of John Muir's first ascent and a ski from the very top. So we took snowmobiles ( have learned a few things) to Agnew Meadows, camped there and climbed and skied the next day. About 6000 vertical and about 17 miles. Snow was pretty good, but up high still wet winter [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 6th, 2011|Backcountry Skiing|

Snowskills with SMC

A lot of people think that winter is the time to learn ice axe and crampon skills. Not so; when the snow is deep and soft ice axe and crampons will not add a lot of safety and security and it is better to be on skis. But now that we have hard snow, cold nights and good cramponing conditions spring is the time to pick up these skills. We did our first skills course up at Rock Creek Lake on Sunday April 30th and conditions were perfect. We covered, cramponing, ice axe work, step kicking, belaying, self arrest and talked about a host of other things - such as [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00May 3rd, 2011|SMC Blog|

Charlotte Dome with Ray, Jay and Haimei August 9-11, 2009

Charlotte Dome is one of the finest climbs in the Sierra backcountry. Every single pitch is excellent and the climbing challenging, but not too hard. if only it was not such along walk..... The approach is about 12 miles one way and makes for a long day. But the campsite is at one of the best springs in the Sierra with cold clear water bubbling from a hole between rocks. A wonderful place to hang out. Jay and Haimei had been here climbing for a week before with us and were tuned up. Ray is an "old school" climber with lots of experience so guides SP and Gonzalo knew that [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00May 3rd, 2011|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

Skiing with Julbo and Glen Plake

If you have been around skiing for a while you have seen photos of Glen Plake. The guy with the multicolored mohawk and who skis on 210cm skis with no sidecut - and looks better on them than the rest of us put together. SMC worked with Julbo (the sunglasses people) to put on a three day program with the Julbo contest winner judy Wu and folks from a bunch of media outlets - skiing, Powder, Backcountry, Backcountry.com etc. The idea was to have Glen show people his home turf in his indomitable style and sleep out under the stars for the full backcountry experience. We went in and camped [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 3rd, 2011|Backcountry Skiing|

I made it!!!!

My personal speed was quite slow - much slower than last time! What a difference two years and a new spine makes! BUT that being said, I did it - and Andrew was was wonderful. He stuck right by me in all the right spots and I never felt unsafe. He inspired absolute confidence. Thank you so much. This was really a little dream come true for me and I have you guys to thank. It was very very hard but worth the work and I'm so glad I decided to try again. You guys are great!

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00September 30th, 2010|What Our Clients Say|

Mt. Whitney – Awesomely Fun

Hi Sierra Mountain Center, On behalf of my brother and I, 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 (Chris and Gonzalo) we 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, [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00July 14th, 2010|What Our Clients Say|

Mini Mountain Camp June 27-29

Dave Meyers put together a custom trip with his sons Grant and Nick after climbing Whitney via the Trail Route a little earlier. The boys were tired after all of that exertion and after a day of rock climbing at Benton Crags Nick decided that his body and feet were sore so SP, SMC's 2010 intern Aaron, Dave and headed up Rock Creek Canyon to camp at Mills Lake. Summer really hit the Sierra over the last few days and temperatures were hot. We spent the afternoon of Day 2 working on snow skills above Mills Lake. Still lots of snow out there and the uppper lakes ares till frozen. [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00July 6th, 2010|SMC Blog|

Skiing the Sierra High Route, 9-15 May

One of the most classic multi-day ski tours in the country is the Sierra High Route.  Stretching across one of the widest points of the range, the tour consistently stays above 10,000 feet and travels through some of the most impressive alpine terrain anywhere.  Jeff, Michael, and SMC's new intern Aaron joined me for a trip that seemed daunting at first, but became absolutely sublime by the finish. SMC adds mileage, terrain, impressive scenery, and fewer people (we saw none this year for the whole tour) by starting in Onion Valley and crossing Kearsarge Pass.  This is a higher start - indeed, we were able to skin almost [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:34-07:00May 28th, 2010|Backcountry Skiing|

Monarch Divide Ski Tour; May 3-9 2010

The Monarch Divide is SMC's favorite ski tour. More difficult than the high route is takes one into little visited areas of Sequoia Kings National Park, has great down skiing and fantastic scenery. Over the last decade or so this has become our signature tour and we are the only guides to guide this trip. John Miller has long wanted to do this trip but we were thwarted two years ago and went back out via Taboose Pass from upper Basin. This year John recruited two co-workers,, Heather Hollister, Danielle Carlin with Serge Dubovitsky and Peter Caldwell rounding out the group. Also along as an assistant guide was Andrew Soleman. [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:38-08:00May 23rd, 2010|Backcountry Skiing|

North Palisade, Starlight & Thunderbolt with Joe Maher and Dan Gelinas. 8.13-15.09

We have done lots of trips with Joe over the years and Dan was on the Mini Mountain Camp with Eric earlier in the year. Both guys were in great shape and knew what they were up for so guide SP PArker and apprentice Gonzalo Montenegro were happy to be able to move quickly and smoothly with them for three days. We hiked in over Bishop Pass on day one and made camp in the upper reaches of Palisade Basin at the small tarn we use for our Fourteeners trip . The goal of the trip was to traverse three peaks in one day so we were off before daylight [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 26th, 2009|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

West Palisades Climbing

Some trips with Sierra Mountain Center seem to have seasonal popularity:  I remember doing trips into the west access of the Palisades 3-4 times a summer when I first started.  A few years ago I did a huge number of summer ice climbing trips, hiking in and out of Mt. Thompson often enough that I quickly developed a preferred route from the Treasure Lakes basin.  This year the emphasis seems to be on rock climbing. Jeff, Cory, and Doug decided to buck fashion and asked Andrew and I to join them on a trip to the Palisades, west-side style, from 9-13 August.  Absolutely! The Palisades are most commonly climbed from the east.  From Glacier [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:43-07:00August 24th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Charlotte Dome with Jay, Haimei and Ray. August 9-11, 2009

Charlotte Dome is one of the finest climbs in the Sierra backcountry. Every single pitch is excellent and the climbing challenging, but not too hard. if only it was not such along walk..... The approach is about 12 miles one way and makes for a long day. But the campsite is at one of the best springs in the Sierra with cold clear water bubbling from a hole between rocks. A wonderful place to hang out. Jay and Haimei had been here climbing for a week before with us and were tuned up. Ray is an "old school" climber with lots of experience so guides SP and Gonzalo knew that [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 24th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Crystal Crag

20090803:  Day 3 After yesterday's adventure on Walker Tower, we had a late breakfast at the Base Camp Cafe before taking a more mellow day - the North Arete on Crystal Crag.  This is a classic II 5.6 route outside of Mammoth, featuring three pitches of steady 5.6 and another 600' or so of 4th class ridge scrambling.  After the "II 5.6" of the previous day, this was a nice walk in the park for Jay and Haimei.   crystal crag / the north arete follows the right-most corner  for a pitch / pitch 2 follows ramps up and left / and the  final fifth-class pitch climbs a chimney to [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 22nd, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Condition Report for the High Sierra

This condition report uses direct observation from the Palisade Range to make some general predictions for the current conditions in the High Sierra.  Don't use this as your sole source of information to trip plan! This photo shows the Palisade Range from Polemonium to Thunderbolt Peaks.  Clearly in view are the V-Notch Couloir, U-Notch Couloir, Clyde Couloir, NE Couloir on Thunderbolt, North Face of Thunderbolt, and an un-named couloir to the right of the North Face.  Photo taken late July, 2009. The alpine ice routes in the Sierra continue to be in the best shape I have seen them in 7 years.  The L-shaped couloir on Mt. Sill is also still filled in [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 21st, 2009|Condition Reports|

The Walker Tower (5-6 pitches, 5.7)

20090802:  DAY 2!  In R.J. Secor's book, a multi-pitch climb is mentioned to exist in Bloody Canyon, just north of June Lake.  The first tower on the left supposedly had a route following the right side of a larger corner on the prow of the tower, up to 5.6.  The whole description took up three lines as a "wrinkle", fitting for a route established in the early 1970's: "There is a II 5.6 route on the easternmost pinnacle.  Climb the face to the right of a black open book, and then the book itself for eight pitches to the top of the pinnacle.  This was first climbed October 1972 by [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 20th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Big Springs Rock Climbing!!

Jay and Heimei joined me again this year for a few days of rock climbing.  August 1st was day one, so we took it mellow and went to a sector of Big Springs that's new to me:  The Stumps.  Big Springs is better known for Clark Canyon, but the stumps featured 60-150' trad climbs up remarkably good welded tuff.  We climbed a 5.6, 5.7, 5.7, 5.9, and finally a 150' 5.8 with a great finish not shown in the guidebook.  What a great time! Chris Simmons is an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide and a Rock, Alpine, and Ski Guide for SMC.  Check out his adventures at his personal website:  Climb.Ski.Run.Sleep.Repeat.

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 13th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Hiking to Whitney the casual way: Cottonwood to Whitney from the West Side

July 26-31:  One of the more relaxed trips that Sierra Mountain Center offers is a horse-pack supported, five-day long, hiking trip to the summit of Mt. Whitney via Horseshoe Meadows and Cottonwood Pass.  Don't be fooled by my casual discription of the trip - we hiked 8-13 miles per day, every day.  But for me, the trip is a great way to take a break from lugging 45-lbs packs up/down steep approaches, so I savor five days where I'm just expected to walk, chat, and cook.  Max and the horses and mules from Cottonwood Pack Station ferried our gear across the back of the crest - thanks Max! And thanks [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 13th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Devils Crag with Corrine Livingston July 28-August 1, 2009

Somehow we seem to have become the "go to" guide service for Devils Crag. The peak is probably the most difficult on the Sierra Peaks list. This list comprises 248 peaks and only 66 people have done it and Corrine has only 15 left to go and has a trip to the Great Western Divide next week which if she completes her tick list there will have 7 left to go. This trip had a great ratio of guide to climber with SP leading, and interns Rich and Andrew coming along. The first day took us over Bishop Pass, down into Le Conte Canyon and then spent the night at [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 8th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Extended Mountain Camp; July 2009

Jason was the "last man standing" for an Extended Mountain Camp from Sierra Mountain Center - the other two clients had canceled for one reason or another.  So we met one early Sunday morning, with a climate dilema.  Thunderstorms had been hitting us with clockwork precision every afternoon, making a lot of the taller alpine climbs normally dispatched on a trip like this a little harder.  So we pulled together a plan, and our after-action report to SMC looked like this: Sunday, 20090719.  Morning:  Climbed Running Lizards (II 5.7, 3 pitches), PSOM Wall, Pine Creek Canyon, Bishop.  Afternoon:  Packed up, drove past Big Pine to Glacier Lodge, and hiked into Third [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00August 7th, 2009|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

Tyndall and Williamson with Linda Emerson; July 7-10 2009

Linda has done a lot of trips with us over the years and keeps coming back for more climb. This time was Tyndall and Williamson and we had to do the trip before the area is closed for protection of the Sierra bighorn sheep. Guiding the trip was SP and SMC intern, Andrew Soloman, who came along to learn the area. Every trip starts with the long flog up Symmes Creek to Anvil Camp. The trailhead was super busy with 28 cars parked there. Busier than Whitney! But it only took a bit over five hours to Anvil Camp. We spent the night here for acclimatization and set of early [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00July 22nd, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

East Buttress Adventures on Mt. Whitney

20090714-16.  David and Carolyn joined me for a three day trip up the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.  We had beautiful weather and easy hiking to Iceberg Lake on the first day. We had a fantastic climb up the East Buttress, with a beautiful sunrise and warm temperatures - We reached the summit in our shirt sleeves!  After a long lunch and leisurely descent, we turned in for a second night.   Late in the morning we finally got started down, and took our time to the burgers and fries at Doug Thompson's Whitney Portal Store. Thanks for a great time, Carolyn and David! Chris Simmons is an AMGA Certified Alpine [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Temple Crag Climbing

Temple Crag / Dark Star is the massive buttress immediately right of the summit / Sun Ribbon Arete is the prominent knife-edge ridge immediately to the left of the summit / Moon Goddess Arete is the next distinct ridge, starting immediately above the pine tree top in the left of the photo / Venusian Blind Arete is the less distinct line to the left of Moon Goddess 20090711-13.  Pat came up from San Diego, wanting to climb on Temple Crag.  Temple is host to some fantastic alpine grade III, IV, and V routes on surprisingly good rock.  Pat and I got to climb Moon Goddess (IV 5.8, 15 pitches), with [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Rock Climbing; 4-5 July 2009

Sonja and Vale joined me for the 4th of July weekend to experience multi-pitch rock climbing.  Previously they had been strong gym climbers with a bit of outdoor top-roping experience.  So I took advantage of their fitness and experience to head for several routes that I haven't climbed. On Saturday we went to the PSOM Wall in Pine Creek Canyon.  PSOM stands for the Palisade School of Mountaineering, a guide service in the 70's and 80's that used this wall to teach multi-pitch climbing.  I was hoping to climb Running Lizards, a 3-pitch 5.7, and PSOM Pinnacle, a 3-pitch 5.8. Running Lizards was great!  There was a little of everything [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Rock Climbing|