Robert “SP” Parker was born in New Zealand in the 1950s. While attending the University of Auckland, he discovered climbing with the university tramping (that’s “backpacking” to Americans) club. He immediately forgot about everything else.
After years of battling the rain in the Southern Alps and the Darran Mountains he a flock of fellow New Zealanders relocated to Yosemite Valley in 1979. Once in the USA, it was clear that California was “it.” A year in England confirmed this decision. He traveled the US climbing in all the great places: Yosemite, Tuolumne, Colorado, Joshua Tree, Devils Tower, Canada. He then explored regions of greater latitude such as Baffin Island and Bellingham, Washington (where he worked for the American Alpine Institute), only to later return “home” to the Eastern Sierra. He was a partner in Sierra Mountain Guides for a while and then joined with Todd Vogel to found SMC in 1996.
SP has a daughter, Ariel Muir Parker, who is now 27 and has stopped rebelling against outdoor activities. She studied astrophysics and has an aptitude for mathematics that seems to have skipped SP.
You will not find SP sitting still unless he is drinking tea. SP’s spare time is spent climbing, skiing or traveling in the Sierra and other parts of the globe. Patagonia is his favorite part of the world to climb (perhaps hearkening to his roots of sitting in the rain waiting for fine weather). After scaring himself silly paragliding in the Owens Valley, SP has discovered adventuring on foot and packraft in the Alaskan Arctic and, closer to home, canyoneering in Death Valley.
Favorite guided trips:
Any ski tours in the Sierra Nevada, especially the “Beneath the Palisades” trip. For technical rock climbs, the Third Pillar of Dana is as good as any in the range. Overseas the Dolomites are fantastic low impact climbing and, of course, Patagonia — where a single good day to a Patagonian summit makes up for any amount of time waiting.
- B.S. Geology (1976), M.S. with Honors, Geology (1978). University of Auckland, New Zealand
Professional Organization Memberships
- American Mountain Guides Association (Recent Board of Directors Member)
- Professional Member of Professional Ski Instructors of America
- The American Alpine Club
- Access Fund
- US Hang Gliding Association
Special Courses & Certificates
- AMGA Certified Alpine Guide 1991
- AMGA Certified Rock Guide 1993
- AMGA, Ski Certification 2002
- IFMGA Guide 2002 with full international recognition
- Certified Level I Nordic Instructor. 1991
- AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guides Course and Exam 2001
- Wilderness First Responder and CPR, current
- Avalanche certification Level III 2001
- American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education Recognized Instructor 2002
- Basic and Advanced Scuba certificate
- Underwater medicine training 1985
- Paragliding pilot II
Selected Guiding Experience
|Alaska||Mt. McKinley; West Buttress (nine times). Peak 11,300, Mt. Huntingdon, Ruth Gorge. Ski touring and ascents of Barille & Dickey.|
|Ecuador||Cotopaxi (19348′).Eight times. Chimborazo (20703′). Eight times.
Illiniza (17300′). Twice. Tungarahua (16700′). Twice.
Cayambe (18,997). Four times.
|Bolivia||Huayna Potosi (19994′). Four times
Condoriri (18,600). Three times.
Illimani (21,201). Four times.
Sajama and Las Payachatas
|Patagonia||Several trips to Fitzroy and Paine regions with ascents of Cerro Almirante and other first ascents.|
|North America||Many guided ascents throughout the Cascade Range, Red Rocks of Las Vegas, Squamish Chief, Leavenworth, Canada : Mount Robson and the Bugaboo Mountains of British Columbia.
Numerous ski Tours in California – Paiute Pass to Rock Creek, Sierra High Route, Mammoth to Yosemite , Rock Creek to Fresno, Monarch Divide, Palisades, Great Western Divide. Many guided ascents in the Sierra Nevada.
Instructor on numerous courses in rock at Joshua Tree.
|Other||Senior instructor and examiner for the American Mountain Guides Association in both Rock and Alpine disciplines. Assistant AMAG Technical Director, Coordinator AMGA Rock Education programs. Involvement in designing courses, determining curriculum and examining and certifying guides.|
Selected Personal Climbs
|New Zealand||Mt. Cook; Sheila Face
|European Alps||Petites Jorasses; West Face
Matterhorn; North Face
Dru; Bonatti Pillar
Aiguille du Midi; South Face
Aiguille Verte; North Face
Howser Towers; Becky/Chouinard
|Baffin Island||Mt. Asgard
Traverse of the Southern Patagonian Icecap*
|USA||-Yosemite El Capitan; Salathe Wall, The Nose, West Face, Lurking Fear, Leaning Tower; West Face,Half Dome; Northwest Face (twice), Washington Column; The Prow, South Face
-Sierra Nevada Charlotte Dome; South Face, Clyde Minaret; South Face, Bear Creek Spire; North Buttress*, East Arête*, South Face*
Numerous other Sierra climbs (500 plus)-Colorado Long’s Peak; The Diamond, Hallett’s Peak, Petit Grepon
-Alaska Mt Huntingdon- Harvard Route
|All Over||Various climbs in England, France, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. (Tetons, Wind Rivers, Devil’s Tower, Joshua Tree National Monument, Red Rocks Canyon, Canyonlands, Toulumne Meadows). Experienced in waterfall ice climbing.|