We feel strongly that training as well as experience is key to a guide’s development as a professional. We value the expertise that years of climbing and mountaineering has brought to our guiding but we also recognize that training and evaluation by peers are necessary before one can truly be called a “professional”. Therefore we require our guides to show a commitment to their profession by being involved in the American Mountain Guide’s Association courses and exams.

Our full lead guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association and our assistant guides are required to have taken an AMGA guides course and to have served a lengthy and rigorous apprenticeship under direct supervision of lead guides. We devote a significant portion of our gross each year to the training and professional development of our guides. This training includes sending our assistant guides to AMGA guide training courses, attending biannual medical training courses to maintain certificates, and being involved in the AMGA training process as examiners and instructors. If you compare our level of training and professionalism to other guide services we are confident that you will find our standards to be among the best.

Meet The Owner

The Sierra Mountain Center, LLC is a limited liability company owned by Robert “SP” Parker  who has some 40 years of full time professional mountain guiding experience. New Zealand born, SP is certified in Rock, Ski and Alpine disciplines (IFMGA certified) and has served as a past director of the AMGA.

Learn more about SP here.

Our Office Staff

Emma Gasman

Emma skiing
Emma joined us in winter of 2021 as office manager and program director.

She grew up hiking and skiing on the west side of the Sierra Nevada. While attending college in Oregon, she was introduced to rock climbing and Randonnée skiing, both which brought her to the Eastern Sierra. You can find Emma backpacking, skiing, climbing, hiking and trail running in our gorgeous backyard. Her most prized possession in her backcountry kit is a bag of Oreos.

Emma is here to help you plan your dream Sierra Nevada trip. Give her a call!

Caroline P

warmly-dressed woman standing on edge of grand canyonCaroline is assisting in the office, backing up Emma while she learns the ropes. Her professional background is in acute care nursing (RN) and full-stack web development. She has been web nurse to this website since she built it in 2016.

As a member of the Broken Collarbone Club, Caroline ditched competitive cycling for more extreme forms of walking. She has covered thousands of solo miles in the Eastern Sierra and on the Colorado Plateau. Her favorite trail food is Sour Patch Kids.

Meet Our Guides

SMC is proud to be employing the talents of guides who are some of the most experienced professionals in mountain guiding. This list is not complete due to it being nearly impossible to catch guides standing still!

Tyler Logan

Tyler Logan climbingTyler grew up hiking in the Sierra Nevada before being introduced to rock climbing as a teenager. In the thirty years since then, he has climbed extensively in this same mountain range, including Yosemite (he has climbed El Capitan multiple times) as well as various other crags and mountain ranges throughout the West. Much of this climbing happened during spring, winter and summer breaks while working as a high school English teacher in southern California. After more than ten years in the classroom, Tyler made a career change and began guiding several years ago. He loves the fact that he now combines his teaching skills with his passion for the outdoors. While climbing is his first passion, Tyler also enjoys hiking, backcountry skiing, and a bit of fly fishing now and then. He lives in Mammoth Lakes with his wife, Mona.

Tyler’s Certifications:
  • AMGA Assistant Rock Guide
  • AMGA Apprentice Alpine Guide
  • AIARE Pro 1 certification
  • Wilderness First Responder

Michelle Wenski

Michelle is a backpacking and rock climbing guide certified as a Wilderness First Responder, AMGA Single Pitch Rock Instructor and AMGA Apprentice Rock Guide. Michelle grew up in southern California, but after falling in love with snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain, it did not take her long to leave the coastal lifestyle of surfing, organized sports and traffic for the mountain life. She has called now Mammoth Lakes her home for 15 years. You can find her hiking, trail running, mountain climbing, snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, and adventuring with her dog and friends in her “big backyard,” the eastern Sierra Nevada.
After enjoying a decade of personal trips exploring the High Sierra, Michelle decided it was time to share that joy with others by guiding trips for SMC. Two of her favorite trips are the John Muir Trail and its cross country neighbor, the Sierra High Route. Nothing is better than escaping the fast-paced front country for weeks at a time to find solace in the back country. Day to day tasks at home are replaced by self-sufficient foot travel across hundreds of miles of alpine terrain where basic needs of food, water, shelter and rest become the priority. The only things on the to-do-list include seeking out: vistas, alpine lakes, high passes, open meadows, peaceful campsites and other hidden gems along the way.
Creating tasty backpacking meals is something Michelle enjoys. She has taken years of work alongside talented local chefs and applies it to her backcountry meals.

Julia Wilson

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Julia grew up chasing her dad on his mountain bike and running through the hills with her sisters. Julia was first introduced to the Sierras on an annual father daughter camping trip at Shaver Lake, CA. Ever since, she has been seeking ways to spend more time in the mountains, whether it’s with a hefty pack on her back or skis on her feet. Julia graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a degree in International Development and Food Studies. This fall she will start a master’s program at University of California Santa Barbara studying Environmental Science and Management. This is Julia’s first season with Sierra Mountain Center and she looks forward to spending much of it in the backcountry.

Chris Norment

Chris Norment SMC Science AdvisorAt SMC we also want to be engaged and to engage our guests in the natural history of the Sierra Nevada. To that end we are please to be able to work with Chris Norment as our Science Advisor.

Chris is a Professor of Environmental Science and Ecology at the College at Brockport, State University of New York. His current scientific research focuses on the ecology and conservation of birds and amphibians in the Northeast. However, he also has long-standing research interests in the ecology of desert and arctic and alpine habitats. He has conducted research in arctic Canada and Alaska, the Snowy Mountains of Australia, the Northern Rocky Mountains, and Death Valley region (where he is pursuing his current obsession with the Inyo Mountains salamander). He also has worked as a secondary high school science teacher, Outward Bound mountaineering instructor, U.S. National Park Service biologist, and gumball machine repairman. He has authored over forty scientific papers and published four books of creative nonfiction.

Dakota Robarge

Dakota is a California Native who grew up in the Bay area and went to college in Southern California. He found climbing in college and fell in love with getting outside to places like Joshua Tree, Tahquitz and Red Rock. He began instructing and guiding rock climbing for his university’s recreation center in 2014. This is where he fell in love with sharing the mountains with others. After graduating as a Manufacturing Engineer from Cal Poly Pomona, he moved into a van with his partner and began exploring classic climbing destinations across the country. He has since guided in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Utah, Washington, Nevada and has refound home in the beautiful eastern sierra of sunny California. He has happily moved out of the van to delve into the year round fun that the mountains here provide. From rock to ice and snow, Dakota loves it all!

Dakota’s Certifications is certified as; AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Assistant Rock Guide, AMGA Apprentice Alpine Guide, AAI Avalanche Pro 1 Certification and as a Wilderness First Responder.

Matthew Hoffman

Matthew is originally from Ottawa, Canada, but spent most of his life in North Carolina. Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Southeast sparked his interest in nature. Recently graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a degree in Earth and Environmental Sciences and a minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership, college was where Matthew discovered a deeper passion for being outdoors. Whether it was hiking, climbing, caving, or canoeing, he got out as much as possible and was a trip leader for other UNCC students. Backpacking in the Rocky Mountains and exploring the canyons, deserts, and peaks of the Southwest was more than enough to push him west. This is Matthew’s first season with Sierra Mountain Center, and he is excited to spend his time exploring the Sierra this summer.

Mike Phillips

mike_phillipsMike is another east coast transplant to California who hasn’t looked back after falling in love with the mountains and deserts of the West. He is a graduate of Oregon State University where he studied outdoor leadership and experiential education. Mike’s professional background in outdoor education brought him to the High Sierra to lead expeditions for Outward Bound in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Mike has worked for Sierra Mountain Center since 2012 guiding trips in the Mt. Whitney Region, along the John Muir Trail and off-trail throughout the range. During the winter you can find Mike caring for injured skiers and performing avalanche control as a professional ski patroller at Mammoth Mountain. Mike is a professional member of the American Avalanche Association and has completed professional level training through the AAA and AIARE. He enjoys climbing peaks and long walks with good company in the high country of the Sierra, and getting out for big backcountry ski lines on sunny spring days.

Larry Gumina

Larry, SMC Guide

Larry is a native of the New Jersey shore. Raised as an ocean lover, Larry spent many warm summer days, as well as frosty winter days surfing the Jersey swells. Through an active involvement in scouting, as well as an adventurous friend group, Larry found a passion for the mountains. Naturally, this passion had him trade his wetsuit for a climbing rack, and he went west! Larry graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Atmospheric and Oceanic Circulation. In Colorado, he fell deeper in love with rock climbing, backpacking, and snowboarding. After graduating, Larry moved to Alaska to pursue summer backpack and canoe guiding. The winters were too dark for him, so he always fled to the sunnier states of the west coast during the winter months. Eventually, he found the Sierra, and fell in love with the high peaks and the fairer climate of California. After a few years of nomadic life, Larry now resides in South Lake Tahoe, where he spends his time rock climbing and tracking fresh powder runs on the many skin accessible peaks of the area. Larry’s favorite trip to lead in the Sierra is the Mammoth to Yosemite backpack as the variety of the terrain offers tremendous opportunities for natural and human history studies!Larry holds a certification as a Wilderness First Responder, a Leave No Trace Trainer, and a AIARE Level I.

Dave Stimson

Dave is originally from Alberta, Canada, but has traded in his Canadian passport for his American one, lured by clean Sierra granite and perfect California weather. He graduated from Mount Royal University in 2007 with an undergrad in Ecotourism & Outdoor Leadership and has been working ever since as a ski patroller and avalanche forecaster in Canada during the winters. Dave has been climbing since 2003 and has climbed in Squamish, the Canadian Rockies, The Bugaboos, the Tetons, Red Rock, Indian Creek and Peru, to name a few destinations. His first time climbing in California was in 2103 in Yosemite Valley and was instantly in love. He is excited to be back with the SMC team for his sixth season, and to climb and guide in the Range of Light. Dave holds a Wilderness First Responder certification, and a Canadian Avalanche Association Level 2. He began the AMGA program in 2014 and became a fully certified IFMGA Mountain Guide.

Louie Allen

Louie Allen“Louie grew up in the remarkably charming, yet flat city of Cincinnati, Ohio and spent his youth dreaming of bigger terrain. He found his passion for the outdoors through hunting and fishing, and by exploring the Appalachian Mountains during family vacations and scouting trips. Louie studied Outdoor Education and Recreation Management at Ohio University, where he quickly fell in love with climbing and backpacking and worked as a trip leader and climbing program manager for the University Outdoor Pursuits organization. He holds a Wilderness First Responder and AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification, and is a trained Assitant Rock Guide and Apprentice Alpine Guide through the AMGA, working in rock, alpine, and ice disciplines. He will be beginning a masters degree program at Ohio University in Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies this Fall. He has an affinity for any and all baked goods, and swears by the Kia Sorento as the unsung hero of the car-camping world. This is his seventh season guiding with SMC.”

Braden Downey

Braden started climbing at Ohio State University in 2006. Since then, he has enjoyed all disciplines of climbing, from icy big walls in Alaska and mixed alpine first ascents in the Cascades, to splitter cracks in the desert and bolted sport climbs at the Red River Gorge. When he isn’t pursuing his own climbing objectives, he finds immense satisfaction empowering climbers with the skills and experience they need to achieve their own rock and alpine aspirations. Braden is a Certified Rock Guide with a background in strength and conditioning, and also enjoys playing guitar, listening to Zeppelin, and occasionally binges on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

Paloma Farkas

Paloma grew up in Seattle, Washington where she discovered her passion for the mountains through family backpacking and climbing trips in the Cascades. In 2017 she traveled to South America and fell in love with the granite towers of Patagonia. Since then she has split her time between Patagonia, Chile and the Pacific Northwest. She has been working for the past four years as a bilingual climbing and hiking guide. Paloma spends as much time as possible climbing and some of her favorite areas are Patagonia, the Peruvian Andes, the Cascades, Indian Creek, the Wind River Range, and the High Sierra. When Paloma isn’t pursuing her own climbing goals she finds fulfillment in sharing her passion with others and teaching the skills necessary to be self-sufficient in the mountains. She is currently certified as an AMGA Apprentice Rock Guide, Wilderness First Responder, AIARE Level 1, and Leave No Trace Trainer.

SMC Alumni

Connie Morrison

Program director Connie Morrison

Program director Connie Morrison

Connie joined us spring 2008 as our office manager and program director. Connie is an accomplished skier and also works with Mammoth Mountain teaching for their disabled sports program.

For twelve years, Connie was the enthusiastic voice you heard when you called us. We wish her many awesome ski runs and laughs with her family, who she has taken more time to be with.

Ryan Huetter

ryan_huetterRyan grew up near the coastal tidewaters of the Puget Sound in Washington State, but has since traded moss and rain for the sunshine and splitter cracks of the Sierra Nevada.  Since graduating from Western Washington University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Adventure Management, Ryan has called the Sierra home. Beginning with leading extended backcountry mountaineering and backpacking trips for the Outward Bound School all over the range, he finally settled down in Mammoth Lakes to enjoy the unbelievable skiing and climbing the Eastside is famous for.

Ryan’s passion for climbing has taken him around the world, from Yosemite Valley where he has climbed more than 15 big walls including a 9 day ascent of Tribal Rite (5.10 A4), to 6 seasons in Patagonia where he has made many major ascents including Fitz Roy and first ascents of remote alpine walls.

But year after year, the Sierra Nevada remains Ryan’s base, and he loves introducing people to the Range of Light.  Ryan’s favorite Sierra climb is definitely the Third Pillar of Dana, of course coupled with fish tacos from the Mobil Station.

Certifications and professional courses include:

  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide
  • AMGA Aspirant Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Assistant Ski Guide
  • AIARE Level 1 Instructor
  • AIARE Level 3 Certification
  • Wilderness First Responder

Calvin Tague

calvinCalvin grew up near the city of Boston and quickly realized his need to be in close contact with nature. He enrolled at Unity College of Maine in 2010, took a National Outdoor Leadership School semester course in 2011 and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors of Science in Adventure Based Environmental Education. Shortly after, he moved to the Far East in search of adventure and professional experience. I Nepal, he worked as an educator and guide for Initiative Outdoor, a leadership school in Kathmandu. During his half a year stay he managed to help lead back packing expeditions as well as rock climbing and caving trips. Calvin taught children about the joys of outdoor living at local school and invited students to join him at the office for some bouldering sessions and climbing lessons. Next, Calvin made the decision to move to Vietnam where he worked as a rock climbing and sea kayak guide in Lan Ha bay. Another half a year was spent here exploring his new home island of Cat Ba and journeying into the bay to be the first to summit some of the karsts’ most inviting rock faces. Since Calvin’s travels in Asia he has returned home to the states only to continue his travels.  But since May of 2016 he has made a big change. He’s settled here on the eastside and dedicated himself to guiding in the Sierra Nevada and practicing the art of alpine climbing.

Joe Crawford

Joe began exploring the mountains while studying Economics at the University of Oregon. Sport climbing at Smith Rock and mountaineering on the Oregon Volcanoes soon gave way to a love of all mountain sports from bouldering to ice climbing and skiing. Drawn to California, for its superior weather and range, Joe began guiding on Mount Shasta in 2011 and in the Sierra in 2014. Having moved to the Eastern Sierra for the incredible alpine terrain, Joe couldn’t help but find a home in June Lake. Joe enjoys skiing the unheralded terrain of “the loop,” from the obvious classics on Carson Peak to the lesser known powder stashes of Fern Creek. In the summer months, he spends his off duty time climbing the alpine rock routes of the high country, his favorite thus far is the Direct North Buttress of Merriam Peak. When he’s not guiding and playing throughout the range, he can usually be found extolling its virtues in a local hot spring, rambling through the hills with his dog or perched at the local brewery.

Certifications and professional courses include:

  • AMGA Advanced Rock Guide Course
  • AMGA Ski Guide Course
  • AMGA Alpine Guide Course
  • Wilderness FIrst Responder
  • AIARE Level II
  • Leave No Trace Trainer

Alwyne Butler

alwyne picAlwyne grew up in Minnesota and, while the flat lands hold a special place in her heart, she longed to explore the USA and beyond.  On her year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Thailand she signed up for her first rock climbing course and fell in love with the movement.  Once stateside again she began a NOLS semester and explored the Southwest.  She got some of her first exposure to backpacking, caving, climbing, and expedition-style river trips.  One of her instructors on that course introduced her to Prescott College and she knew she wanted to be part of the community there.  Four years later, with a degree in Adventure Education and a yoga teacher training certification, she began to work wilderness therapy in Colorado and Utah.  Since relocating to California in 2013 Alwyne has worked with many schools to facilitate outdoor education trips and personally explore the Sierra and become a member of the Sierra Mountain Center crew.  Now you are sure to find her scrambling on the granite mountains, biking the single-track trails, and running through the meadows. You can count on Alwyne to be upbeat, positive and always having a good time with an exceptional ability to connect with a wide range of guests on the trips.

Lindsay Fixmer

Since her initiation into climbing in 1999, Lindsay has travelled to world-class climbing destinations and guides clients of all abilities on rock, ice and alpine climbs. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Lindsay knew she wanted to return west where the mountains offered a plethora of climbing opportunities. She began a career coaching youth competitive climbing teams and managing climbing gyms. Through her experience teaching the technical skills of climbing Lindsay naturally transitioned to guiding and works closely with her clients to develop their skills. Her preferred venues include Rockies, Tetons, Sierra, Rainier, North Cascades, Alaska, the north and southeast US, Argentina, Mexico, and Iceland. While Lindsay loves rock climbing she excels as a technician on ice. From the ice meccas such as the Northeast, the San Juan’s in CO, Hyalite Canyon in Bozeman, MT; Cody, WY; to the stunning fjords of Iceland she brings her clients to their peak level of performance. Lindsay originally began working in the Sierra in 2006. Now, a decade later, she bases in Bishop near the gorgeous landscape of impeccable granite. When Lindsay isn’t climbing you can catch her playing guitar and singing at local cafes.
Lindsay holds the following credentials; AMGA CWI Provider Trainer, AMGA SPI Provider, AMGA Certified Rock Guide, AMGA Assistant Alpine Guide, AAIRE Level 2, Certified Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Trainer