todd-vogelFifty-something Todd Vogel is one of two owners and founders of Sierra Mountain Center, LLC. Todd got his start in outdoor living by accompanying his geology professor father on field trips in central Michigan. Growing up in Michigan Todd learned to ski at a young age and, believe it or not, learned to climb there as well, as a high school student. He thought he’d pulled a fast one on the high school administration when, to graduate early, he opted to take classes from the local community college. One of the courses was “Rockclimbing and Wilderness Survival”. Shortly before his high school graduation ceremony – his diploma was sent to him – he boarded a Greyhound bus with two school friends bound for the northern start of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington state. 90 days and some 1,600 miles of walking later he and his friends hiked out of the mountains near Mt. Shasta and hitch-hiked as planned to central California where his father was on sabbatical from Michigan State University. After attending college in Santa Cruz Todd worked in the outdoor industry in a variety of capacities. His start in the teaching end of outdoor education while working at the University of California Santa Cruz’s Outdoor Recreation department, leading college students on backcountry ski trips into the sierra. It was around this time that he started teaching rock climbing at the local mountain shop which then was known as Western Mountaineering.

The second half of the 1980’s Todd spent most of his free time climbing and mountaineering in the Sierra and in that time climbed quite a few of Yosemite’s long “big wall” routes. One year he spent 32 weekends in a row in Yosemite. Gas was cheap and climbing partners plentiful…

By the late 1980’s he realized that he was spending more time driving to and from the mountains than actually spending time climbing so In 1988 he moved with his wife-to-be Chris Iversen to Bishop, California to pursue a more formal path in mountain guiding and outdoor education. He started a sole proprietorship business as a mountain guide in 1990 which gained momentum until he and current business partner SP Parker realized that they were referring each other work frequently – why not join forces and work less, earn more and pretty much sit around and watch the money come in? Thus Sierra Mountain Center, LLC was created in 1998. Of course now we work constantly, earn about the same and who has time to sit around and count beans.

Personal interests outside of guiding include a passion for learning as much about mountain and desert natural history as he can possibly soak up, birding, photography, and woodworking. A selection of his bird photos can be found here. Todd is married to Chris Iversen, also from Santa Cruz and they have two Australian Shepherd dogs, one of whom is smart; the other is nice.

Todd says:

“I am fortunate that I have been able to make a career out of mountain guiding and outdoor education. I am grateful for the trust that my students and guests put in me and appreciative of all that I have learned from them.”

Favorite guided trips

Pretty much any ski tour but especially the Monarch Divide, which he has done twice, any of the technical climbs on Temple Crag, and favorite above all other climbs, Charlotte Dome.

Todd Vogel’s 2005 Resume

Objective Stay sane, healthy, and fit and make a living in outdoor leadership and education.
Experience 1998–2005: Sierra Mountain Center, LLC, Bishop, CA
Owner/partner/Member-With business partner SP Parker began and developed highly respected mountain guide service. Emphasis on highly skilled guides, technical expertise, mountain and wilderness leadership; programs conducted primarily in the Eastern Sierra but also Alaska and internationally. As part of this business we have permits on seven different National Forests and National Parks and employ half a dozen guides.

-22 years professional guiding experience

-Diverse experience in Rock, Alpine, Ski Mountaineering and institutional/experiential education fields. Proficiency on both alpine and telemark/Nordic skis.

-Nationally recognized guide and educator and trainer of outdoor instructors. Teacher of 35 American Mountain Guides Association Top Rope Site Manger programs.

1987-1998 — A Taste For Adventure, Bishop, CA
-Created and taught leading edge mountain skills courses and trips including rock climbing, alpine mountaineering, and ski mountaineering trips.
– (Business Name Changed to Sierra Mountain Center in 1998, and Sierra Mountain Center, LLC in 2003)
1989–1995 — Sierra Wilderness Seminars, Arcata, CA
Chief Mountain Guide
-Designed and guided rock, alpine and ski based mountaineering programs
1987–2005 — Catalyst Consulting Team
Rock climbing and Wilderness program director
-Supervised outdoor component on team building programs/Experiential Education for fortune 500 and other corporations and organizations around the world. Developed and worked program sites in Switzerland, Spain, New Zealand, and Western US.
1991–1994 — Naturalists At Large, Ventura, CA
Rock climbing program director
-Recruited to create and implement institutional climbing program
1988–1989 — Rock Creek Winter Lodge
Jack of all trades
-Taught beginner through intermediate ski lessons; guided ski tours.
1983–1987 — University of California , Santa Cruz
Recreation dept leader
Taught beginner through intermediate ski lessons; guided ski tours, taught rock climbing
1982-1987 — Western Mountaineering, Buyer
Responsible for hard good purchasing for two specialty mountain shops, over $2,000,000 yearly gross sales.
Education -University of California, Santa Cruz1982-1984
-Environmental Education major, no degree obtained
Additional Training -Gained AMGA Rock instructor certification in 1997

-Gained AMGA Rock guide certification in 1997

– Gained AMGA Alpine Guide certification in 2003

– Avalanche Level I and II certifications 1984

– Avalanche Level III certification 1999

– Attended ISSW 2004 September, 2004

-AMGA Ski Mountain Guide course April 2003

– Wilderness First Responder and AHA CPR

– American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education instructor training Level I and Level II Instructor certificates December 2001

– Leave No Trace Master certification August 2001

– Prior American Mountain Guides Association Top Rope Site Manager Course Instructor/Provider.

– Various Alpine environment guide trainings taken 2000-2003 with IFMGA certified guides including two five day guiding on glaciers workshops and four day alpine training with Martin Vokin.

Technical and guiding highlights

  • Alpine and Nordic skiing since 1970
  • Rock, Ice, and Alpine climbing since 1980
  • Experiential education instructor since 1983
  • Mountaineering experience in New Zealand, Canada, US, Central and South America including technical expeditions led to Alaska, Patagonia, and Europe.
  • 7 grade VI and over 30 grade V rock climbs, some done as single day climbs
  • Over 2,600 documented wilderness guiding days on Inyo National Forest, average these past five years 120 to 150 days per year in the field. 30/year ski guiding, 60/year alpine mountaineering guiding, 20/year instructing instructors (top rope course, etc, balance is institutional outdoor programs.
  • 20 years teaching and guiding rock climbing, approx 850 guiding days of multi client, multi pitch rock and alpine rock guided.
  • 15 years guiding backcountry alpine rock, snow, and ice routes in the Sierra Nevada of California.
  • 15+ years guiding backcountry ski tours from two to eight days in length in the Sierra Nevada. Approximately 500 documented on snow guiding days since 1988 including leading AAA level I and II avalanche courses, ski tour and ski mountaineering courses and extended ski tours in the Sierra.
  • Has instructed 30+ AMGA toprope site managers courses.

Technical abilities

Lead 5.11, 5.12 if the wind is blowing up hill on traditional rock, 5.8 in mountain boots though I whimper, WI 5, skiing on Nordic and alpine gear at PSIA 9

Other relevant information

  • American Mountain Guides Association member since 1987
  • American Avalanche Association member 1998-2010
  • Prior American Mountain Guides Association Accreditation Review Committee member.
  • Prior American Mountain Guides Association Board Of Director member .
  • Prior board member “Friends of the Inyo”, a non-profit dedicated to education and advocacy for the Eastern Sierra wildlands.