Leading With Vision
From the early days, we always knew what we wanted to create in SYMG. We sought to create a business where we took people into the beautiful wilderness of the High Sierra and gave people a lasting memory of an incredible trip; a trip where the food was fantastic, the guide became a friend, and the scenery refreshed the soul. We sought to make it easy and possible for people to get out into their wilderness areas and create experiences that soothe the soul and memories that last a lifetime. Now more than ever we all need this.
Our professional mountain guides are a cornerstone of the SYMG experience. We are privileged to have some of the best and brightest in the industry wear our logo with a sense of pride an ownership. Each guide has their own specialties, often associated with advanced coursework or certifications. Our guides are well versed in the natural and cultural history of the area, cook excellent food, and are fun, personable people to spend time with. As anyone who has been on an SYMG trip knows, you begin your trip with your guide and end your trip with a lifelong friend.
A Sustainable Philosophy
At Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, we're concerned about the beauty of the mountains, the strength of interpersonal relationships, the wilderness experience, and the challenges these provide. We intend to make people more aware of the environment while providing an opportunity to meet others with similar interests. The people who make up each trip are as important as the areas and the places we explore. The primary concern for all trips is that they are run safely and provide a positive outdoor experience.
Our Administrative Team
Meet our team of outdoor enthusiasts who have spent years exploring the backcountry and adventuring around the world! We bring passion for exploration to our work behind-the-scenes, making sure every SYMG guest has an unforgettable wilderness experience. Whether it’s planning a large expedition or hitting the local trails on our days off, we love wild places and sharing adventures with whoever we can.
Albert NugueGuide Emeritus (1974-2010)
Doug RobinsonChief Guide Emeritus
Ian ElmanPresident & Co-Founder
Matt CairnsOperations Director & Backcountry Guide
Matteo FioriGeneral Manager
Our Guide Team
Our dedicated team of guides bring their diverse experiences and vast knowledge of the Sierra Nevada to the trips they lead. Our guides love what they do, leading people into the beautiful backcountry places they call home and utilizing their wide array of backcountry skills to facilitate incredible trips. Above all, they are excited to share their unique passion for the mountains they live, work and play in with you!
Jenny KaneBackcountry Guide
Alex KendrallBackcountry Guide
Jackson HaldermanBackcountry Guide
Emma NortonBackcountry Guide
Partnered With The Best
SYMG is proud to be partnered with some of the best outdoor companies on the planet. Click on the logos below to learn more about their cutting edge gear
Letter From SYMG Founder & President Ian Elman
Wow, 30 years of High Sierra trips! Feels like just yesterday it was 1991 with just the three owners living in a rented room at Bass Lake near Yosemite and a small closet full of gear. In those days I really looked forward to every third night, when it was my turn to have the side of our king bed that was closest to the wall. It’s been a wild ride since then; going from a handful of trips into the Ansel Adams Wilderness each season with the 3 of us to big expedition-style trips throughout Yosemite and the High Sierra with 20 employees. Thing is, we were never just doing it for temporary work and fun, we were doing it to have lifelong careers. To be eventually named “Best Outfitter on Earth” by National Geographic was one of the proudest moments along the way.
Recently I have been walking down memory lane in light of our quarter-century anniversary– rifling through old photos, magazine articles, catalogs and such. In an old brochure (remember those?) from 1997 the intro reads: “Dear Friends… To cherish good times and good friends in the mountains, deserts, and wild places we hold dear”. Thus begins our mission statement, which remains unchanged to this day. Pursuing dreams–it’s what we are about. We’ve been laughing lately with the media popularity of the concept of “digital detox” weekend getaways and “getting unplugged” by getting into the wilderness. That’s a concept we have been living and providing since the old days and now is finally hotter than ever. Heck, recently I read an article on social media about the popularity of people wearing beards and flannel shirts. “Boys, we are back in style!” was the title of the e-mail I sent my old friends and partners in SYMG with the link. All this to say that our commitment is exactly the same as it was then: Make it easy and possible for people to get out into their wilderness areas and create experiences that soothe the soul and memories that last a lifetime. Now more than ever we all need this.
I was asked recently about what’s it like being in the Outfitter Guide business for 30 years for an article and my first reaction was…It’s hard! But once you knock off the veneer of challenges that every business faces my thoughts turned to the trips themselves. The SYMG experience hasn’t changed tremendously in the last 30 years. For myself, for our guests, and for our guides, SYMG is about the people and experiences we create for them. I’m proud of that. The Outfitter Guide business is still a spectacular place to be.
Permits & Certification
Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides, Inc operates under special use permits in Sierra National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks. All SYMG rock courses are instructed by certified PCGI instructors and/or AMGA trained guides. SYMG is also a proud member of Trout Unlimited, the Worldwide Outfitters and Guides Association, The Yosemite Conservancy, and the Sierra Club.