Howie Schwartz

SMG Lead Guide & Owner
UIAGM/IFMGA Ski & Mountain Guide


Howie is an international UIAGM & AMGA ski and mountain guide. He was fortunate to learn to ski as a toddler and he owned the first p-tex snowboard by Burton in 1987, which he hiked up the groomed runs of East Coast ski resorts. He discovered rock and alpine climbing in 1988 on a trip to the Tetons. The highlight was climbing the Grand Teton via the upper Exum Route with legendary climber and guide Chuck Pratt. Since then, climbing, skiing, and mountain guiding has taken him to many spectacular places, primarily to the Sierra Nevada, Alaska, and throughout the Alps – but also to places like Canada, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Antarctica, and Thailand. He has logged numerous first ascents and ski descents in his personal and professional tenure. Howie has been guiding since 1993, and became one of the first 20 American guides to achieve the IFMGA professional credential in 2001. He was also the first and only American IFMGA guide to pass ski guiding exams on telemark equipment (though he shortly afterward went back to his fixed heel roots). With an outdoor education background, Howie got involved with teaching Avalanche Awareness Courses for a small Swiss-owned guide service in Crested Butte, Colorado in 1997. There he became one of the several collaborators to design the now ubiquitous AIARE avalanche course curriculum, and was the creator of the ” AIARE Decision Making Framework,” which the Level 1 & 2 courses are still based upon. Howie teaches Level 1-3 Avalanche Seminars and is involved with the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center locally as a Board Member. Howie has also been an instructor/examiner for the AMGA Training and Certification Programs since 2000, working in all 3 disciplines and serving on the AMGA Technical Committee. He spent 6 years overseeing and developing AMGA ski mountaineering guide training and certification programs as Ski Discipline Coordinator. Lately, when not overseeing SMG’s operations, Howie has been getting back to what he loves most – climbing, skiing, guiding, & family. Howie also enjoys flatpicking guitar and can be seen jamming with string musicians throughout the Eastern Sierra. Howie’s wife, Karen, manages their unique mountain shop on Main Street in Bishop, California called Sage to Summit. They own a geodesic dome in Big Pine, but recently moved back to Bishop where they currently live with their amazing son Cosmo and dog Wheeler.


The Schwartz family

“I felt that Howie’s experience in working with groups and teaching a wide range of ability and experience levels paid off. Great attention to each students needs and learning desires.”Aaron J.
“how about that Howie… He’s like a truffle hunting pig when it comes to finding the sweet snow conditions.”Taylor S.
“Howie was very personable. I enjoyed the conversation as well as the climb. I truly appreciate Howie’s patience working with me. The weather threatened my plans (i.e. Tioga pass closed) but everything worked out. Howie guided me up Emerson despite the ice and snow. I had not anticipated the conditions we encountered nor would feel comfortable climbing in them my friends. Howie’s expertise in ALL types of climbing eased any doubts I had and we did the routeJed N.

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