Robert “SP” Parker was born in New Zealand some time in the early 1950s when black and white television had not yet even arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.
His computer education in high school involved punching holes in cards and expressing things as zeros and ones. Luckily while attending the University of Auckland studying geology (from which he graduated with a Masters degree) he discovered climbing with the university tramping (backpacking to Americans) club and immediately forgot about everything else.
After years of battling the rain in the Southern Alps and the Darran Mountains he decided that there must be drier alternatives and headed to Yosemite Valley in 1979 with a flock of other New Zealanders. Once in the USA he decided that California was ‘it’ and a year in England confirmed this decision. For a year he traveled the US climbing in all the great places, Yosemite, Tuolumne, Colorado, Devils Tower, Canada and all of the places on a visitor’s hit list.
After working for a while washing dishes nights in Palm Springs and climbing days in Joshua Tree he returned to New Zealand for a while and then came back to the West Coast of the US for more climbing and a trip to Baffin island. He got somewhat distracted on the return to New Zealand and ended up in the Sierra working at Rock Creek Lodge. From here he went to work for American Alpine Institute out of Bellingham, Washington. He worked for AAI for twelve years guiding trips world wide but eventually decided that the Sierra was home and where he wanted to work. He was a partner in Sierra Mountain Guides for a while and then hooked up with Todd Vogel to create SMC in 1996.
SP has a daughter, Ariel Muir Parker, who is now 27 and has actually stopped rebelling against outdoor activities. She is studied astrophysics and has an aptitude for mathematics that seems to have skipped SP.
SP has yet to discover the benefits of lying on a beach with tall drinks with little umbrellas in them within reach. Consequently his spare time finds him off climbing, skiing or traveling in the Sierra and other parts of the globe. Patagonia has become his favorite part of the world to climb in and thus expresses a return 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 in the Arctic of Alaska 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.
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.|
PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIP
- 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
- B.S. Geology (1976), M.S. with Honors, Geology (1978). University of Auckland, New Zealand
SPECIAL COURSES AND 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