Trip Reports

Rendezvous in Red Rock – March 28-29, 2014

Not to be confused with the Red Rock Rendezvous, the mass gathering of climbers and gear manufacturers which happened to be going on the same March weekend, Alex Stepanek and I went ready to get up early and beat the
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The Bloody Couloir

Join Janet on her 2 days of guided backcountry skiing with IFMGA Ski & Mountain Guide, Howie Schwartz, of Sierra Mountain Guides exactly one year ago in 2013. The trip finished with a coveted descent of the Bloody Couloir on
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Winter Mt. Whitney 2013

To Summit or not To Summit – Musings of a Sierra Mountain Guide As I put away the expedition gear from my recent trip and place the kit back on the racks in the garage, I find myself reflecting on
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Scramblers/Senders- Kids Climbing Program

Summer 2012 flew by as I had so much fun teaching rock climbing to almost fifty kids from the Eastern Sierra. We had a great mix of ages and abilities, some climbed for the first time and others returned to
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Europe Trekking Part 2

Another stellar week in the Italian Dolomites! Dan and I hiked a good portion of the Alta Via 1 trek, staying at several stunning alpine huts along the way. My favorite was Rifugio Lavarella – great food, relaxing ambiance, pleasant
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Dolomites 2012! – Part 2

Evening light on the Fanes and Tofana Groups featuring 3 of our classic via ferratas  Wynne and Jill on Day 1 “Can we please stop somewhere?” asked Kellie in a shaky voice as we drove up the pass on day
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Summery Summary, Part 3: "Listers"

Jed’s final post of the summer.  After one more Palisades trip he’ll head to Washington for an AMGA exam.  He’ll be back in October:  Bring on couloirs and rock climbing! Forgive me, but I like to find themes that unify
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EUROPE TREKKING

Cancel the return flight by: Guide Lyra Pierotti I think I made a big mistake purchasing a round trip plane ticket for my trip to the Dolomites. Should have just gotten a one-way. I just about passed out on our
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SMG Dolomites 2012! Part 1

The Italian Dolomites: where mountain culture and geology converge to facilitate the most outstanding and accessible alpine rock climbing adventure opportunities on Earth. A climber from the Eastern Sierra can really appreciate the contrast here. At home we have craggy
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Mammoth to Yosemite Fastpacking

One of the sayings I often find myself using is, “There is more than one way to skin a cat.” Aside from the obvious negative imagery this may conjure up it does have real application in many of the activities
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Summery Summary, Part 2: Family Time!

More ramblings from Jed… Man, keep this guy in the mountains.  He just won’t shut up when he’s in town. Some things come in binges!  In June it was sweet alpine sending action.  Mid-July brought a ton of traversing.  Now,
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Wedding Anniversary with Peter Croft

How to celebrate a wedding anniversary???  A day out with Peter Croft, perfect! Betsy was originally interested in Charlotte Dome, but after a few discussions everyone decided the best route for the special day should be The Third Pillar of
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Evolution Traverse, July 2012

“When will I stop doing the hardest thing I have ever done?”  Jon A., July 2012, high in the Evolution Peaks. The Evolution Traverse (VI 5.9) as seen from its final peak. That is a great question for any of
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Summery Summary, Part 1

SMG guide Jed Porter expounds on his diverse guiding experiences from Summer 2012 to date. Enjoy! How do you measure Summer?  Someone once decided that the longest day of the year marks the start of summer.  Summer partiers count July 4 as
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"Evolution Half-traverse" with Glen Plake

The Evolution Ridge near sunset The Evolution Traverse is an impressive length of continuous ridge on the Sierra Crest not far from Bishop, CA. It features an aesthetic wilderness setting, spectacular climbing on the very crest of the ridge, and
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Temple Crag Celestial Weekend 2012

I met up with Taylor and John at our Bishop office to do a gear check and packing session prior to our weekend journey to Temple Crag. Both Taylor and John have climbed with SMG for some time and were
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Palisades Traverse, June 2012

Jon asked the typical questions.  “How many times have you done the Palisade Traverse?”  “Does it ever get boring?”  The first question does not have a ready answer, which is the reason that the second does.  First of all, it
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Mammoth to June, April 2012

Carl and Glen on the effortless, yet unrelenting, climb from Minaret Vista Adventure is where you find it, spring has sprung, and skiing is more than snow;  a trip this past weekend connecting Mammoth and June via the ultra classic
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AIARE Avalanche 2 Course

We love avalanche education!  A better-educated public skis and climbs smarter, skis and climbs more, and lives longer to ski and climb more.  What’s not to love!? The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is the leading provider
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Mt. Whintey Winter

There are a multitude of reasons for wanting to climb a mountain, particularly in winter, when the forecast is for high winds and brutal cold.”Because it’s there”might suffice as an answer if you were George Mallory and equipped with the
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Sierra Lemonade

Mt. Whitney in early January 2012.  photo: Alex Few Well I always thought lemonade was a summer brew, but as it turns out California lemons tend to ripen in the late fall or early winter. I learned this thanks to
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Mt. Whitney Winter

Indulge me a bit here, if you will.  Usually I try and post SMG trip reports here from the guests’ perspective.  What made this trip special for him or her?  What did he or she bring to the trip that
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Ice Climbing, Parker Canyon CA

The lack of snow and cold short days may get some skiers down this time of year, but not for those willing to hike a little and swing some tools in the frozen seeps of the Eastern Sierra.  The Parker
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Glen Plake & Howie Schwartz Ski Black Divide

Journey to the Black Divide- Part One UIAGM Ski and Mountain Guide, Howie Schwartz and professional skiing ambassador, Glen Plake get together for some adventure skiing in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, California, in search of “probable” first descents.
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Climbing in the Owens Valley- Rocks!

In late fall, I hear alpinist and skier types complain when the first snows of the season start to stick to the mountainsides. Hopes for one more high altitude rock climb before the end of season are dashed, and impatience
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Eastern Sierra Evolution Loop Go Light, Go Fast

THE EVOLUTION LOOP Two hours on day two brought the only stint of bad weather. Driving sleet blinded us from the East as we scrambled over high granite slabs, rounding pristine lakes and crossing primitive streams to the top of
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Tulainyo Lake

Negotiating the Ebersbacher Ledges in uncharacteristically cloudy conditions  The mountains draw all kinds of people on all kinds of missions.  Sean started calling and brainstorming with us months and months ago.  He has an avid and personal interest in history,
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Summer Alpine Climbing on Middle Palisade

Sometimes the best trips (or experiences or relationships or parties or… well, whatever) come out of changed plans.  This past trip to Middle Palisade was one such trip.  Chad  and John came with a long-dreamed itinerary.  John is ticking through
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CRYSTAL CRAG

We had another outstanding adventure up Crystal Crag on Sunday with Dave and Betty from San Diego. I have guided this classic peak many, many times, by several different routes but I often forget just what a good introductory alpine
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Middle Palisade Peak

Tom and his godson Michael stayed in one of the cabins at the Glacier Lodge the night before we started our climb.  I met them at their cabin in the morning and we enjoyed the cowboy coffee and delivered breakfast
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The North Ridge of Mount Conness

I met Jim at his hotel in Lee Vining at 5am.  We wanted to get an early start to make sure we were off the summit before the forecasted thunderstorms hit.  We threw his gear in the car and drove
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MT. Whitney Sept 2011

We had a great trip up Mt. Whitney via the Mountaineer’s Route with JP S. and Collin D., September 2-4, 2011. Weather and conditions were outstanding. Three springs are flowing strong on the trail before the climb to Iceberg Lake.
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SMG Alps 2011 Rock Climbing

After our success on the Jungfrau we felt like we had used up our weather karma.  With the forecast still indicating storms we decided to switch gears and focus on rock climbing.  We got an early start and headed for
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SMG Alps 2011 Jungfrau

 After our recovery day we decided to head back up to the Monchsjoch hut and give the Jungfrau a try.  The weather forcast didn’t look great but we thought if it didn’t snow too much we might get enough clear
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #13 Jungfrau Joch

 After a hearty breakfast we boarded the Jungfrau Joch railway train that tunnels through the Eiger to over 11,000 ft.  There is always a strange mix of tourists and climbers on the train and this was no exception.  After an
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #12 Hintisberg

 John arrived in Grindelwald planning on climbing the Jungfrau and the Eiger.  I met him at his Hotel (Eiger) the night before our trip was to begin.  Our first day led us up another narrow Swiss road to Hintersberg.  After
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #11 Martigny

With yet another grim forecast, tired legs, and only a couple of days left in our trip we decided to get to lower elevation and the possibility of some rock climbing.  We drove from Sass Grund to Martigny.  Martigny is
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SMG Alps 2011 Post#10 (Nadelgrat)

 Yet another 3am start found us winding our way up the moraine in the dark following the reflector trail.  We got on the glacier and wound above the huge icefall to the couloir leading to the first col of the
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #9 ("Rest Day")

  Our “rest” day found us heading to the via ferrata (iron road) in Pontresina.  After some amazing exposure and fun climbing we took a rest break on the bench at the half waypoint. More fun led us to the
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #8 (Piz Palu)

  After our adventure on Roseg we woke up to 20cm of new snow at the hut.  We were planning on climbing the Biancograt but decided to head down the valley back to Pontresina.  It was a beautiful hike and
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #7 (Piz Roseg)

After a restful night at the Tchierva hut we got a 3am start in the hopes of getting to the summit of Piz Roseg.  The route included a lot of glacier travel, some rock ridge climbing, and then more glaciers
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SMG Alps 2011 Post # 6 (Morteratsch)

From the Boval hut we got an early start for the climb of Piz Morteratsch.  The climb included some hiking, rock climbing with new snow on the rock, and some steep glacier climbing.  We were able to scoot past a
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Palisade Traverse in the Eastern Sierra

It’s official, the Palisade Traverse is my favorite High Sierra offering! What a grand adventure: Wilderness approach, snow, ice, lightweight camping, amazing rock climbing, difficult summit pinnacles, high altitude, and an accumulation of demands to the body. Like many trips
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #5

We set out on our first day and climbed Piz Trovat by way of the same Via Ferrata that I did the other day.  We came back down and crossed the glacier to the Boval Hut.  We’ve been dealing with
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #4

I did a quick trip to Zurich this morning to pick up Tony and Mich.  We had a pleasant drive back and stopped in Saint Moritz to take some pictures.  We met our other guide Bastien around 4pm and did
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SMG Alps 2011 Post #3

I woke up to cloudy skis this morning but no rain.  It was a busy day of checking out different locations and climbing a couple of Via Ferratas.  I also dove into Saint Moritz to purchase REGA Helicopter Rescue insurance
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Start of SMG Alps 2011 Post #2

The day started off rainy and looked to be very wet.  I spent the morning getting organized and putting together information for Tony and Mich.  I heard some great news from US Airways. they found my bag and would deliver
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Start of SMG Alps 2011

Hey there everyone, Well, after an interesting fight (Reno – Phoenix – Philadelphia – Zurich) I’ve (Neil) arrived in Pontresina. US Airways lost one of my bags so that will be a fun follow up.  It’s the bag with all
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Mt. Ritter

Mount Ritter is classic.  It’s the highest peak in the Ritter Range, which includes Banner Peak and the Minarets.  R.J. Secor says, “Mount Ritter is perhaps the most prominent peak in the High Sierra, and can even be seen from certain
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Mt. Conness

In The Good, the Great, and the Awesome Peter Croft says of Mt. Conness’s North Ridge, “This route has the most alpine feel of the Conness routes….” and describes it as “undeniably classic.” That’s exactly what we got climbing it this last
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Sawtooth Mountaineering Seminar, June 2011

Dan G. and I just finished this year’s version of our comprehensive “Sawtooth Mountaineering Seminar”. Designed to be a thorough introduction to snow and rock mountaineering skills, the SMS is always a great time, in a great place, with the
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AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course, Eastern Sierra, June 2011

“The American Mountain Guide’s Association (AMGA) is the premier source for training, credentials, and services for professional mountain guides andclimbing instructors in the United States.” Becoming intimately familiar with the “training” portion of that organizational mission statement has become a
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January Ice Climbing, 2011

January was awesome for Ice Climbing! While the skiing deteriorated (just a little, we made it work, but it wasn’t ideal) the climbing only improved. We scrubbed the snow off, and then ol’ Ma Nature let the water run and
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Black Mountain, January 2011

On January 25 and 26 Neal W. came out from Chicago with a flexible and motivated attitude! Looking for an enjoyable two day snow-and-scramble adventure, he and I got set up to climb something near Convict Lake. We had fast
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Holiday Ice Climbing 2010/11

We ran some excellent ice climbing programs during the Holiday ’10-11 period. A custom day Christmas Eve, an Ice 101 12/26-27, another January 1-2, and a custom program January 2-3. It was a stormy, exciting time. Most notably, we were
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AMGA Ice Instructor Course

We at Sierra Mountain Guides pride ourselves on employing AMGA trained guides. And we keep ourselves motivated to continue training. We are also very proud of our friends and clients and fans that know how the AMGA training process works
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Stormy Sierra Climbing

Its not often in the Sierra that we get to climb in a true storm. First of all, the Sierra doesn’t receive too much stormy weather so we are pretty spoiled in that respect. Summertime brings the occasional afternoon thunderstorm
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Sierra Mountain Guides

Sierra Mountain Guides