About our programs

We offer both skills-focused programs and guided trips and naturally there’s some overlap between the two. Our skills programs follow a logical progression designed to help you acquire the knowledge and techniques necessary to become a safe and competent mountain traveler. On a guided trip an outdoor professional leads the way, taking care of difficult decisions such as route finding, safety, and logistics.

We offer a full range of scheduled programs from introductory level to advanced courses in a wide range of “disciplines” (e.g. ski touring, rock climbing, avalanche awareness). All are designed to increase your outdoor and mountaineering skills and to augment those that you already have. Our Scheduled Programs are priced as group courses and we strive to keep participant to instructor ratios low. This enhances safety and allows more time for what you came for – the skiing, climbing, or other activities. Smaller group sizes also allows us to better minimize our impacts on the land and other visitors.

AMGA accredited! We are accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association. Accreditation and certification are two important assurances of quality in the guiding field.

Which Trip is For You?

We want your trip to be a rewarding and positive venture so we need to ensure that your chosen program is appropriate. Please carefully review the prerequisites for technical skills and physical conditioning on each trip page and if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us. For extended trips we’ll talk with you before your application is accepted and may need you to obtain a physical exam from your doctor.

Summer Trips

A catch-all name for our programs that for the most part do not take place on snow. These include:
The SMC Rock Climbing program – a fun and comprehensive progression created by leaders in the American guiding community.
Mt. Whitney: The lower 48’s highest peak is home to some outstanding backcountry climbs
Mountaineering courses and skills: we have a comprehensive how-to program that includes all the skills necessary to be a competent mountaineer.
Backpacking: This is a great place to escape the stress of the urban setting. We have programs for newcomers and experienced hikers alike.
Classic Sierra Climbs: no one knows these routes better than we do.

Winter Trips

A catch-all name for our programs that for the most part take place on snow. These include:

The SMC ice climbing program: A great place to see if ice climbing is for you. Also a good starter for aspiring alpinists.
Winter Mountaineering: Why go all the way to Alaska when you can have just as much suffering right here in the lower 48?
Avalanche training: Essential training for the snow traveller.
Ski Mountaineering: Some of our favorite trips.
Winter skills: intro to ski touring, snowshoeing, snow camping

International and Alaska

We have a wide variety of international trips each year. SMC owner SP Parker has led dozens of trips to Alaska, South America, Europe and Asia. Recently we have led trips to the Dolomites of Italy, Patagonia, and Alaska.
International trips overview

SMC Rock Climbing program

We have been teaching rock climbing for twenty some years now and approach it as educators, not guides. On these programs our focus is to give you the necessary skills to become independent of us so that you can go forth and enjoy the great sport of rock climbing in a safe and responsible manner. There’s lots to learn… Of course we have a biased opinion but we believe that hiring an instructor is the fastest, safest, and most efficient to gain the necessary skills. AMGA certified guides are in a far better position to teach climbing skills than those that have not bothered to go through a formal training program.

Guide, instructor, and leader training

SMC owners Todd Vogel and SP Parker are renown in the guiding community as excellent trainers of aspiring guides.

Our program has these aspects:

Avalanche training
Emergency Medical Training (sponsored by SMC; provided by Wilderness Medical Institute of NOLS)
Rescue for climbers

Programs for families, schools, and other groups

We work frequently with schools and other organizations, providing outdoor education, natural history interpretation, climbing, and other types of programs. Current clients include private and public schools, national organizations, organizational development companies, and groups of friends and families who just want to get out and have a good time. Please contact us for a proposal for your group.

Custom Trips and Private Guiding

If your schedule doesn’t match ours, or maybe our scheduled trips just aren’t what you’ve got in mind, we offer private trips to meet your needs and time constraints. Most our trips start from a template of a scheduled program but are customized from that point.