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Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides: Testimonials

  • Just settling back into work after a fantastic YGT with Wilson and Sierra. Just wanted to state the obvious: Wilson and Sierra are THE GREATEST GUIDES YOU HAVE! Ok, I'm sure you have others (😜) ... The bios look great AND we met Fred on the trail... However our group couldn't say enough (positive, glamorous, star-studded) things about these two!

    As you may know: Both Wilson and Sierra are professional, respectful, intelligent, calm, supportive and patient (yes, in spite of having to get 6 women onto the trail in the mornings... Which by the way is like herding cats). They are wise beyond their years, genuinely, with great knowledge of biology, geology, backcountry skills, and history, which I find critical in this type of adventure. Their love of the outdoors was palpable and very real, which helped to thoroughly engage women who wanted to know about the Sierra.

    Wilson, with Sierra's support, thought of everything from great treats, snacks and meals, to beverages of choice for a bunch of Canadian girls, and what time to get up in the morning without too much grumbling. They were flexible and fair. The on-trail breaks were always appropriately timed, and well appreciated, without any woman needing to say "are we there yet?!". Their great communication skills, group engagement ability and their allowance to have their unique personalities show through, was obvious.

    In any case, just thought I would take a second to give a shout out to W & S and thank you, Ian, and SYMG for a formidable, epic, well planned back country experience. I plan to be back! Before too long....

    - Sarah Harrison, Yosemite Grand Traverse Backpack , July 2016

  • The weekend was awesome! Riley was excellent, the experience was educational and overall a blast. Thank you for a wonderful trip, looking forward to another SYMG experience!

    - Jordan C, Rock Weekends , August 2016

  • I had a wonderful time on my recent JMT trip. I just wanted to send a quick note of appreciation for our guides, Wilson and Scott. They were well prepared; they got up before us and went to bed after us to make sure we were well taken care of on the trip. They are really good cooks. The meals they prepared were really delicious and fresh. This was a trip of a life time and I could not have done it without Wilson and Scott’s help. Wilson and Scott were fun and knowledgeable. I leaned lot about the geology, history, trees and flowers on the JMT from both Wilson and Scott. They are really nice guys and hard working too. Please pass on my thanks to both of them.

    - Deb Nieminski, John Muir Trail , August 2016

  • This trip was more rewarding than I ever imagined. The varied terrain, flora and fauna of this route was truly magical. Though it wasn't the sole reason for my attraction to the TST trip, we did have favorable weather and were able to make our way up Mt Whitney on day six. It was exhilarating to experience the sunrise as we made our way to the top.

    But without doubt, the best part of the trip for me personally was the expert guidance from Alex Kendrall and Nick Robinson. These two young men were consummate professionals from the initial group meeting the night before departure and throughout the entire journey across the Sierra Nevada. Safety, followed very closely by our enjoyment of the trip and educating us about the land were obvious priorities. And the cooking was absolutely incredible - something I think all of us looked forward to each night. I look forward to joining these two fine men on a future trip - a joy to be in their company.

    I was anticipating good things from SYMG and you guys delivered on all counts. Thank you very much for a memorable and safe trip in the mountains.

    - Randall Gillette, Trans-Sierra Trail to Mt. Whitney , August 2016

  • Alex was outstanding. His calm confidence was infectious (in a positive sense), taking two nervous, not-very-experienced city-dwellers into a whole new world which we enjoyed very much. Great views, both of the spectacular scenery and also insights into ourselves…as you know this is the ideal time and place for introspection. Alex’s patience and encouragement backed by lots of experience (the Eagle Scout of guides) were exactly what we needed. As a result, we not only got back safely (not a trivial task being re-routed down the Mist steps with packs on a busy day), but also were on top of Half Dome before sunrise (likely good that I couldn’t see what I was going up on the steps and cables!). On the HD, Alex’s mountain experience was what made it possible for me….with a coffee on the summit as the icing. Thanks again. Great trip. Great guide. Great experiences.

    - Mark and Sue Tiffin, Half Dome Backpacking Weekend , June 2016

  • Our trip was really really great. Could you please pass on our thanks to Nick. Our time in Yosemite was the best part of our time in the US and now that we are back in Australia we know we definitely want to return to Yosemite again at some point. I'll fill out the survey now but just wanted to flag that a real highlight of the trip was Nick's cooking - he cooked some very yummy meals. Thanks again.

    - Jamie McPherson, Yosemite High Passes Loop , June 2016

  • It was awesome…Nick was great and I really appreciate him showing us something we had never experienced before…much different than car camping. We got lucky to have great weather, good group and an awesome guide. I didn’t know what to expect out of a guide but he exceed anything I expected. Thanks for everything.

    - Greg G, Yosemite High Passes Loop , August 2016

  • Our school was looking for a real backpacking adventure off the beaten path for our 8th graders, and we’ve found it in going to Ansel Adams with SYMG. Not only is the area spectacular, with once in a lifetime views and an extremely light footprint for California, but the professionals at SYMG are first rate naturalists. Their administrators make it easy for busy teachers to work within their schedules to plan an educational, safe and memorably beautiful and fun backpacking experience. Our students and teachers have appreciated their SYMG guides for their kindness, enthusiasm and wide ranging skill sets, and traveling to Ansel Adams perfectly fits our goal of having the students’ last backpacking trip feel like a “capstone” of all the trips that precede it. We feel grateful and excited to have SYMG as our partners for outdoor education.

    - Ted Saltveit, Marin Country Day School- Student Programs , 2015

  • Our guide Fred….Informative, fun, really intelligent.  We loved Him.

    - Pete Briger- Yosemite Day Hikes , May 2015

  • Hi Andrea!! I just went on the Yosemite Falls Loop backpacking trip last was awesome, btw! Wilson and Scott were so great!!!

    - Mandy Baily- Yosemite Falls Loop , June 2015

  • Hello, we enjoyed our guide Ryan.  He took us to Half Dome on Thursday.  We learned a lot. I'm glad we had Ryan's experience along the way and that he took Blake up the cables and me to the subdome.  My goals were to complete the hike safely and to learn along the way and although tired at the end of the day, Blake and I both had more energy than expected that night. We appreciate all of the breaks we took along the way and the wealth of information from our guide.

    - Lisa Sharpe- Half Dome Day Hike , June 2015

  • Dear SYMG and Scholastic,

    We are so excited to tell you about our fantastic grand prize Yosemite trip from the Sensational Memories contest! Brent, Korban, Emma, and I had such an remarkable time from beginning to end, and made amazing memories that we have not been able to stop talking about since our return.

    Upon our arrival our kids rolled down their windows to let the fresh mountain air fill our car and refresh our minds.  We found the adorable cabin and had time to become acquainted with bustling Curry Village. After a restful night sleep, we met up with our guide Brendan and started our adventurous day of bike riding around the Yosemite Valley. We had so much fun on our ride that even when it started to drizzle my kids didn’t want to stop, but laughed and found riding in it to be one of our favorite memories!

    The rest of the week was filled with one adventure after another that showed us the grandeur of Yosemite in ways that we had never seen it on previous visits. We hiked up the Mist Trail and overlooked the most incredible scenery from the top of Vernal Falls! Our guide was very cautious about the steep, slippery steps of the path we had climbed up and led us down a switchback trail where we found an illusive black-headed grosbeak bird to photograph (we are bird nerds). Another day we drove through Tuolumne Meadows and climbed up to a granite overlook of the valley that was incredibly inspiring. Our final day of horseback riding through the sugar pine trails left us one of our most hilarious memories. As our horses made their way across the final creek, my husbands horse got a little too close to the one in front of him and ended up with a big splat mud bath! It was timely to make one more lasting memory of our Yosemite trip!

    In closing I wanted to make a specific note about the quality of the SYMG guide Brendan and the type of tour he led. We all felt that the entire trip was tailored to each of our individual needs, and Brendan was very generous in that regard. Not only did he help us prepare with daily needed supplies, but also he taught us helpful tips about body mechanics and outdoor terminology to educate us about outdoor adventures. This natural, organic method was very helpful to each of us, and his willingness to make it a “journey to enjoy rather than a destination to reach” gave the trip a higher quality value. My kids talked Brendan’s ear off and asked tons of questions. When it came time to say goodbye to him, it was the only time all week that they whined and had tears in their eyes!

    All Best, Brent, Kelley, Korban, and Emma Siebenaler,

    - Siebenaler Family- Custom Private Yosemite Adventure , June 2015

  • Hi, I just wanted to send a quick note of appreciation for the guide, Fred Ackerman, on our recent private trip into the Ansel Adams Wilderness, earlier this month.  His expertise, his hard work, his attention to our well-being (and of course his cooking!) helped us enjoy our trip immensely.  Even my oldest son, who was not looking forward to the trip, recently admitted that he enjoyed it.  I have sent Fred a note directly, but wanted to let you know our appreciation as well.


    - David Korflage Family- Pvt Alpine Lakes , July 2015

  • Hi, I hope this finds you well. I've just returned from the Alpine Lakes trip July 22-25 with Brendan and Andreanne. I filled in the online evaluation but was on my phone at the airport so didn't put down everything I wanted to say. I just wanted to add that they were both excellent guides and company on the trip and also gave me invaluable advice about what to do in Yosemite after the trip too. Please pass on my thanks to both of them. They have also convinced me to look at the John Muir trail for next year!

    - James Howard- Alpine Lakes , July 2015

  • Ian, I thought you would want some feedback regarding our trip. Our guide was Ryan Filanda, he is an amazing man. He is a combination of strength ,intellect, humility, and above all was decent, kind and understanding when it came to our weaknesses as guests in your mountains. If you are looking for a wonderful representative of your company, Ryan is your man. Great cook too!

    The Trip, Alpine Lakes was magnificent- we were surrounded by scenery that I was hoping for -the workout was vigorous, and demanding -just what I wanted (maybe a little more). I hope to book a trip again with SYMG in the future and came back from the mountains with a great appreciation of what the men and women of your company do.

    Thank you !!!

    - Lou Ianniello- Alpine Lakes , 2015

  • Hi, We're just back in UK from our trip to Yosemite which included a day hike with Fred Ackerman.

    Just want to say how great he was. Our group was of mixed hiking abilities-I was definitely the slowest but he accommodated our pace completely and made our hike up Mist Trail and back down the John Muir a very memorable experience.

    Fred was fun and knowledgeable and we learnt a lot about the geology, fauna and flora of Yosemite and he was full of top tips about the best viewpoints.

    A brilliant day which we thoroughly enjoyed-thanks Fred!

    We'll definitely use SYMG for any future trips.

    Kind regards,

    - Annie May- Yosemite Day Hikes , July 2015

  • Hi Ian, I am back from Paradise!! It was amaaaaazing, even cool to see the hail and lightening and thunder.

    Our guide Scott was an absolute doll.  David and I thought he was fabulous. Really took good care of us and taught us a ton.

    So, I will be back soon. :)

    Thanks for the wonderful trip.  I am so glad you do what you do.  There is hope for all us city folk.  :)


    - Patricia Huertas- Tuolumne Meadows Hiking Weekend , July 2015

  • Hi Ian, I’m the Aunt who went along with my nephew and nieces.  I didn’t realize what I was exactly getting into, but being I’m in pretty decent shape I went along… Ryan could be my son and he was the most thoughtful, considerate guide we could have had…  Considering I never have been in the mountain, the meals Ryan made were exceptionally good… It was a very memorable experience for all of us.  Next year when we come Ryan will be our guide…  Thanks again for such an exciting experience…

    - Trish Ianniello- Pvt Alpine Lakes , July 2015

  • SYMG's guides, Fred Ackerman and Nick Robinson.  Two excellent young men who surpassed all possible expectations.  Smart, sociable, informed, courteous, considerate hosts who greeted requests for information and assistance with a sincerity that never failed.  They succeeded in making each day's hike and each camp an event unto itself.  Their enthusiasm for their work is matched by a desire to assure each hiker had the best possible experience.  Anectdotal observations and banter shared while hiking, setting up camp or preparing fabulous meals kept everyone connected and mutually engaged in an evolving experience.  Above all that, there is no doubt in my mind but that every member of the group would say both are enjoyable gentlemen worthy of trust.  Many thanks to SYMG and especially to Fred and Nick.

    Best Regards,

    - Rod A, Fresno- Mt. Whitney Horse Pack Trip , July 2015

  • Well - we’re all back home safely in the UK after our 25-day USA road trip and I just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you and especially our guide Nick Robinson for an absolutely fantastic day hiking the South Rim… Obviously the valley itself is stunning but spending the day with Nick was a huge benefit as his knowledge of the flora & fauna and the history of the area really brought it all to life for us. Nick was a fine ambassador for SYMG and an absolute joy to spend the day with. He was warm, friendly and attentive to us all and the kids thought he was “awesome.” I’d be grateful if you could pass on our thanks once again to Nick for making our time in Yosemite so special and I shall recommend your company to everyone I know.

    - Shaw Family, UK- Yosemite Day Hikes , 2015

  • I was extremely impressed with Ryan Filanda. I have had guides before with a 1:2 ratio (Rainier) and I cannot state how well he handles his duties alone. Despite being relatively new to the company and guiding Yosemite, he did not miss a beat and this trip seriously exceeded my expectations. I was expecting it to be good but not this good. He had to look out for 6 people from teenagers and their dad to people in their 50's. Including this 36 who turned 37 years-old on the trip and runs around mountainsides and asks questions like a teenager ;) His pre-guiding life experience and ability to connect people of different ages and nationalities was impressive. There was zero awkwardness about anything. He quickly went from guide to one of our hiking friends, and it is obvious that he does not just do what he does for a paycheck. Even the teenagers took all of his guidance seriously without fail. He also expertly took care of her younger sister's serious foot blister with his first-aid skills. We sang songs, told life stories and his cooking was simply amazing!! He went above and beyond for the food before the trip and is simply a great guy. I consider him a true friend and have a ton of respect for what he does. He also worked very hard after we all went to bed with minimal voluntary assistance from us.

    - Jonathan Ben-Ami- Half Dome Backpacking Weekend , July 2015

  • Hi Pete, Tony and I had a great trip to the U.S. and loved visiting California.

    One of our highlights has to be the magnificent Yosemite and in particular our day's hike with you. Thank you for making that a special day and sharing your love of the place and its people and history. It was all amazing!

    I'm keen to plan more hikes but this time a little closer to home in Europe!

    All the best,

    - Rita and Tony Antoniou- Yosemite Day Hikes , August 2015

  • Hi Andrea, We had a wonderful time on your trip.  Both Alexes were really excellent - cheerful, great to be around, fun, knowledgable, really good with kids. All of us would certainly love to go on a trip with them again.  We appreciated the quality of the food, and it's general healthiness - much better than I was ever expecting.  The scenery was gorgeous and the route was perfect.  I would tell any of my friends to book with you.

    Thanks for everything -it was really great!

    - Phil- Pvt Family Alpine Lakes , August 2015

  • I am just back from my trip to Alpine Lakes and I wanted to share that Brendan and Riley were absolutely outstanding guides in every way.  They were not only incredibly kind, thoughtful, fun, gracious, graceful and extremely well prepared, their knowledge and enthusiasm for their work came through in everything they did.  I had the pleasure of peaking Madera with Brendan and it was one of the most thrilling and memorable experiences I've had in the outdoors.  His skill, foresight, strength, pacing, smarts and good nature are second to none.

    - Christina Giorgio- Alpine Lakes , 2015

  • Hello Ian, Just a note to say how much Alexandra enjoyed her rock-climbing day with Riley - and how much we enjoyed watching!  This US trip is a one-off trip of a lifetime for us, and that day will be a particularly special memory.

    I was very impressed with how Riley assessed Alexandra's current skills and gave her new challenges, and then as she tired, adjusted her final climb accordingly.

    Best wishes,

    - Dru Kenny, UK- Rock Climbing Day Guide , September 2015

  • Hi Team SYMG team, I would like to thank you for providing such an amazing experience on the trip my guides Brendan and Alex made the experience better. Even though I didn't reach the summit I still had a very good time. The guides are very knowledgable and patient . Also Colby, Andrea and the whole team for responding to my numerous emails and calls about the trip.

    Thank you again.

    - Karen Breliant- Half Dome Weekend , September 2015

  • Dear Ian Elman, Months ago we booked a trip to Yosemite Valley to Celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Like many, we wanted to climb Half Dome, but we did not win the lottery to get permits. Disappointed, I began brainstorming to figure out a way to summit Half Dome, and that is when I stumbled upon SYMG. At the time my husband felt that the trip was over priced, but I convinced him to book the hike/climb trip for the weekend of September 18-20, 2015. Upon completing our hiking trip, we are happy to say that the hike/climb was worth every penny in large part thanks to Brendan Hayes and Alex Kendrall. Being a nurse, I know that it is not easy dealing with the public but these two gentlemen did a wonderful job. Their customer service skills were excellent from start to finish. They both had such patience, kindness, and professionalism. The world would be a much nicer place if everyone were like them. They made us feel at ease and welcomed. We were very impressed with their knowledge and experience, especially with their backpacking cooking skills. Not only did I love their food that they prepared, I was very impressed that they got my husband to eat things I could never get him to try. I must say that the food they prepared was better and healthier then the meals that they served in the Valley.

    We would like to take this opportunity to thank Brendan and Alex for making this trip and climb so memorable for us.

    Thanks again for making our trip to Yosemite so wonderful and memorable!! We hope to do further hikes with you in the future. Who knows maybe the Yosemite Grand Traverse Trip or the JMT!! Sincerely,

    - Annette and Mike David- Half Dome Weekend , September 2015

  • Hi Andrea, I just completed a Grand Canyon hike with one of your competing companies.  You absolutely topped them in every way.  The quality of your guides, and the food difference was really amazing.  I can't tell you how much the food matters - when you're hiking hard, good food is really something to look forward to.  The Alexes may be "foodies", and maybe we just lucked out, but the meals they prepared were really delicious.  In contrast, the food I ate on my most recent trip was really disappointing - mainly freeze-dried and the breakast was either oatmeal in a packet or just some granola.  The last night we just bought our own stuff at the grocery store for dinner and breakfast so we had something decent and filling to eat.

    Thanks again, and more power to you for keeping up the standards at SYMG!  I think we will be repeat customers. All the best,

    - Phil- Alpine Lakes , August 2015

  • I wanted to put in a good word for Wilson, who gave us an amazing tour day back in September.  Wyck and I ask a ton of questions and he handled all of them wonderfully! We were really impressed and just had an amazing day.  Thank you.

    - Laura and Wyck- Yosemite Day Hike , September 2015

  • Hi Ian. It's been almost 4 weeks since the JMT and a great big thank you to you and your SYMG team is overdue. Each and every one - yourself, Andrea, Mike, Fred and most especially Alex and Brendan - were in their own way, brilliant ambassadors for SYMG. For someone such as me who committed a lot to be on the trip of a lifetime, I can't speak too highly of the great job SYMG did to help make that happen and more!

    From the very beginning, SYMG (you!) helped me with the wilderness permit application, Andrea then helped me with the logistics of sending a parcel early so that it could meet me in Tuolumne, Mike did a great job quietly and effectively supporting Alex and Brendan 'in the background' and Fred was a welcome sight with his picnic table at the end!

    Ultimately though, Alex and Brendan put in the hard yards through the days and quite frankly they were amazing and an absolute pleasure to hike with. Real gems and I have them to thank for the fact that my JMT really did turn out to be the trip of a lifetime!

    Many many thanks (from sunny Scotland)

    - Paul Curran- John Muir Trail Backpack , August 2014

  • Over the last ten years, we’ve taken our client friends to Yosemite to climb Half Dome; did a Mt. Hood glacier hike and crevasse climbing trip; hiked Zion and Bryce; rafted on the American River; climbed Mt. Rainier; went to a Utah Dude Ranch to ride, rope, hike, and drive ATV’s; paddled, snorkeled, fished, and hiked out in the Channel Islands; hiked in the Enchantments; etc. Our goal is to get clients to get to know us out of their offices and, to some degree, out of their comfort zone by doing something more memorable than the typical, boring dinner and drinks routine. When Chris suggested a guided backpack trip, I was skeptical that it would match past trips, but it did and then some. The hiking, fishing, bouldering, food, camaraderie and SNOW made it absolutely memorable. We’ve already received a blast of emails with photos and thanks from the gang. All of them agree with Chris and me – it was a unique experience and you guys were absolutely great. Thank you (and enjoy some well-deserved time off.)

    - Richard Wootton- PVT Ansel Adams High Sierra Camp , September 2014

  • Ian, I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful time Michael and I had with Jade. She is a lovely, intelligent woman who gave us a lot of information about the park. Michael is not as comfortable as I am with being out in the woods and she respected that and helped him to feel very comfortable while at the same time giving me a little more hiking. And even with our car delay in the morning we still had a great day. Yosemite is a beautiful treasure that we have. I would totally do it again, maybe spring next time.

    - Mary Cole- Yosemite Day Hike , September 2014

  • Dear Colby, I want to say a huge thank you to Alex for his time & knowledge taking Matt & my Alex climbing at Fresno Dome on Saturday 16th August. He was a brilliant guide and both boys really enjoyed the time they spent with him climbing. Matt especially had a brilliant time and was really pleased to have been able to do quite a few climbs with your Alex. Ceri & I really enjoyed watching our boys climb and had a great day out. Please pass on huge thanks to Alex for his patience and ability to ensure Matt & Alex got the most our of their day.

    - Sandra, Ceri, Matt & Alex Davies- Rock Climbing Day Guide , August 2014

  • Our trip to Yosemite was amazing. The highlight of our California adventure. Many thanks go to your group, especially Katie, for planning the days and encouraging all of us to continue hiking and enjoying the breathtaking scenery. What we saw and experienced was beyond any of our expectations. We feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this natural wonder.

    - The Fox Family- Yosemite Hiking Weekend , July 2014

  • We had a great time on our tours with Carlos. He was informative, fun, challenged us and encouraged me. We saw some of the most exquisite landscapes we could ever hope to. He was the perfect guide for my grandson and I. I would have every confidence in recommending SYMG and Carlos.

    - Fran Skupski- Yosemite Day Hikes, June 2014

  • I did this hike on the weekend with Chris. I had a fantastic time but - unfortunately for me - something went a bit wrong with my breathing (possibly just due to poor fitness!). The reason I wanted to write to you was to just get it on your radar that Chris is an amazing guy (if you don't already know). By the time I realized something was wrong we were already on the way back, but he did a phenomenal job of keeping an eye on me, topping me up with his personal energy bars / drinks, picking out rest stops and just being unbelievably accommodating. I honestly think that if I'd been on my own I would have given up and slept under a tree - no doubt whatsoever in my mind that he's the only way I made it out by nightfall. I can't imagine how stressful it must have been for him towards the end (we wanted to be out by sunset and I had to stop about five times just from Vernal Falls to the trailhead, which took about 40 minutes) but he remained professional, supportive and kind (and we made it!). I tipped him everything I had in my wallet, which was only about $40, but if I'd had triple that he still would have got it all. Incredible job and an incredible guy.

    - Sam M - Half Dome Day Hike, June 2014

  • Recently my family and I had the opportunity to hike the Panorama Trail with Pete Devine. We absolutely loved the experience, and it was by far the highlight of our entire trip. Pete is an excellent guide and ambassador for SYMG. His extensive knowledge of Yosemite, the trails, and the wildlife made the trip even more memorable. I will definitely recommend SYMG for anyone wanting the best outdoor experience possible of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas.

    - Kory Krista - Yosemite Day Hike, June 2014

  • "Once in my lifetime I want to go rock climbing in Yosemite" was, what my husband Siegfried uttered a few months ago and what gave me the idea for my present for his 60th birthday. Trying to make such dream happen is however an endeavour with a certain risk when one tries to make the necessary arrangements from remote Germany and without too much knowledge of the local situation.

    My research on the internet brought me in contact with your team and Ian Elman in particular. From that time on everything looked pretty easy and doable even from a distance of some thousand miles. You set up a plan for a 3-days, private rock climbing "clinic", found us a pleasant accomodation at the Pines Resort at Bass Lake and were even able to get us an additional night within very short notice - thank you, Ian and Andrea.

    "Our" guide, Alex Kendrall, was a pleasure to "work" with. Alex impressed us not only by his excellent climbing skills and personality as a guide and instructor. His constant focus on the utmost safety was of the highest level we had seen from mountain guides in the Alps. Thanks to Alex these three days made the trip the "lifetime experience" my husband had looked for and left me very satisfied with the decision to trust on you experts at Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides.

    - Annette Brueckner - PVT Rock Camp, June 2014

  • Ian—We just returned from a marvelous visit to Yosemite. I wanted to share with you that our day hike with Pete was spectacular, and Pete was one of the best guides ! He accommodated our planned route, adjusted to our pace and stamina, and provided the perfect experience. Thanks again for helping to make our Yosemite experience so memorable. This was my 7th trip to Yosemite over the years…it is always a pure joy.

    - Marshall Zolla - Yosemite Day Hike, May 2014

  • We wanted share with your organization what an incredible experience we had with your guide Chris Plewa. Chris took us on a wonderful three day backpacking trip through the Yosemite Falls-Snow Creek Loop. He was delightful to be around, professional, prompt, very positive, kind and encouraging, an amazing backcountry chef and obviously very knowledgable both about backpacking and about the park.

    - Rachel Quisenberry - PVT Yosemite Falls Loop, May 2014

  • Thanks for your answers to the questions. It is crazy twist of fate that Rachel and I were able to have the trip to ourselves and Chris, of course. Chris mentioned that there were other people that signed up but then had to cancel. Well I proposed to Rachel on Saturday at the second nights camp/overlook across from half dome. Thanks goes to Chris for being a helping hand for taking some pictures for us. This trip is just what we needed to see all of what backpacking for short trips could be with the amazing food and good planning. I will be sending another e-mail shortly to sing the praises of SYMG and to say thanks again for not only changing the way Rachel feels about backpacking, but allowing me a great opportunity to change Rachel's and my relationship forever…she said yes!!

    - Matt Bennet - PVT Yosemite Falls Loop, May 2014

  • Dear Ian, It seems just like yesterday we were hootin’ and hollerin’ in the drink of Costa Rica! With truly grateful hearts we say, “Thank you, Ian and SYMG Team for all of your efforts in developing a truly unforgettable experience in Costa Rica!!” It was our pleasure to get to know you. Perhaps we chat soon as we’d really like to adventure to your ‘hood!? Sincerely,

    Melissa and Matt D. - Costa Rica Multi-Sport, Feb 2013

  • "Jessie and I both felt like we achieved a huge accomplishment with our climb of Sierra Dome, and Drew gets full credit. We are addicted and will begin looking for climbing groups at home."

    Nolie M. - Private Rock Climbing Days, June 2013

  • Colby, I just wanted to drop you a quick note and thank you for putting this together. I know we asked you guys to take a few risks with our group, but everything worked out as planned. We had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed our hike. From the route to the guides, everything was exactly what we were looking for. Additionally, both Drew and Ryan were fantastic. They did a great job working with us and ultimately, becoming part of our group. Towards the end, we felt like they were friends along with us.

    Jeff T. - YGT Fastpack, June 2013

  • Hey Ian, So I just got back from the Alpine Lakes trip. It rocked. The dynamic duo of Jenny and Ryan really made it fun for all and it was by far the most relaxing trip I have had in the mountains. The site they found was idyllic and the way they tailored day trips to the varying needs of the group was impressive especially since athletic prowess varied among participants. Highlights included Ryan wearing my red swim cap and Jenny racing a 16 year old guest to see who could better clean the pan post chocolate flambé. Also, as I am sure you are aware, Ryan has some rocking legs.

    Next summer I'd like to plan a trip with 1-2 other families of four guided by SYMG (formerly known as Jackass Expeditions... Whatever inspired the name change?) Jenny and Ryan also encouraged me to do the Yosemite Grand Traverse which sounds awesome.

    Kudos to you for building up SYMG into the corporate Titan it is today. Be sure to retain Ryan and Jenny as long as possible. Maybe all your guides are that strong but they were really incredible. Everyone on the trip was effusive in their praise of the guides. Let me know if ever you're in SF

    - Reed M. - Alpine Lakes Trip, June 2013

  • Christina- Thanks for your guidance and steady persistence that I could make the final push on the cables of Half Dome. I was amazed that you were able to make the trip the very next day for the rest of our group! They reported a great time but exhausted! We had a good trip back to Iowa on Friday. Many thanks to you and Lindsey for your particular care and safety of my Tiny’s (grandkids). They are rather special and they will always remember their Yosemite Hike to Half Dome. Tell Lindsey Hi for us and again Thanks for a JOB WELL DONE.

    Larry E. Family - Half Dome Day Hike, June 2013

  • Colby- We want you to know we had a fantastic trip- and especially LOVED our guides. Please pass on our thanks. All the best,

    The Beckers - Alpine Lakes, June 2013

  • Hi Alex Just wanted to give you some feedback, had an absolutely amazing week. I have to confess my heart sank at the pre hike briefing when I saw the size of the group and I still thing 12 is too many however in this case it worked really well as we seem to have had the perfect mix of ages and personalities to make it gel. Obviously the jaw dropping scenery and excellent weather makes it easier but I thought Drew and Reilly were superb, wonderfully safe but also understated which is exactly what you want. They were a credit to the organization.

    Have trekked in all four corners of the globe but cannot remember when I had so many photogenic moments on one hike, that loop is really special. With best wishes,

    John F. - Yosemite High Passes Loop, July 2013

  • Ian: Just wanted to let you know that Peter [Scott] went above and beyond the call of duty to make our trip a success. Our route turned out to be very physically demanding, but also very rewarding as we got to see parts of Yosemite that I'm sure very few others ever see. Peter was very patient with my daughter and I, did more than his share of carrying weight on some pretty steep off-roading treks, and gave me the education in backpacking that I was looking for. He also has a great sense of humor, and we spent the week verbally sparring with each other and enjoying the solitude. And dealing with an acrophobe as I am, he was very supportive in my getting up Half Dome. Thanks again for sending him our way, and I would definitely tell others to request him should they book a trip with your company.

    Rick M. - Father-daughter Private 7-day Yosemite backpack, July 2013

  • Hey Ian, A note of thanks for putting together a great trip for our group. SYMG has been a great organization to deal with, and I am very appreciative of all you and your staff has done since I contacted you over 17 months ago. Normally our school trips are contracted out to educational travel companies (at a very high cost), so this was my first time putting together a trip in-house. Your help in planning this trip was invaluable and made for a adventure the students will always remember. It is my intention to do a similar trip every other year, and I have learned much with this experience, especially things to do to avoid any last minute issues such as those that came up this year.

    A big shout-out to Chris Plewa as our guide. He was terrific! Not only is he well-versed in guiding such trips, he is engaging and fun to be with. He possess that invaluable trait that all great teachers have: the ability to connect with their students. Adam and I also enjoyed spending time with him. He offered great advice on activities in Yosemite Valley, and was just a pleasure to talk to. I would welcome the opportunity to have him guide any future trips I am involved with.

    Again, thank you and to all at SYMG for putting together such a great adventure. It was all we expected and more! I have already been looking over some possibilities for a similar trip in summer of 2015, and will be in touch early next year to begin planning for it. Best...

    John S. - Yosemite High Passes Loop, July 2013

  • Dear Ian Elman- It was my good fortune to have participated in the John Muir Trail with your company.

    The group of people with me were delightful. The 2 guides, Wilson Riggs and Grace Nehring were professional and kind. I couldn’t have been treated better.

    When I had to come off the trip, Grace was my special guardian angel. Even though I knew she would have to return to the group (after hiking me out) after nightfall, she never hurried me along.

    Alex #1 phoned ahead and made a hotel reservation for me. Alex #2 came from Oakhurst. He delivered my luggage and drove me back to Fresno before once again driving to Oakhurst. What a kind gentleman. This was Sunday, his day off.

    You have a wonderful company.

    Jan M. - John Muir Trail backpack, July 2013

  • My brother and I recently completed the Yosemite Grand Traverse trip with Jenny and Ryan as our guides. It was a fantastic trip that we would recommend to anyone. The itinerary was well planned and we could not haveasked for better guides. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic, personable, and great chefs! Many thanks for a memorable trip!

    Sims R. - Yosemite Grand Traverse pack trip, July 2013

  • Hi Colby, I just wanted to let you know what an outstanding job Drew did as our lead guide for the Yosemite High Passes Loop trip in mid-July. He set a tone of confidence, competence, and positivity that helped create a wonderful and memorable experience for all of us. Riley was excellent as well, and we learned at the end of the trip that he had scouted out the campsites in advance, for which we were grateful. The hikes were challenging and rewarding and the pristine lakes the perfect reward at the end of each day. Worth mentioning: the food was plentiful and delish and the coffee each morning an eye-opening treat. We loved the fresh air and natural beauty of the Sierras, of course!

    Tom and I couldn't have been happier with our experience with Drew, Riley, and the trip experience as a whole. Thank you so much!

    Ann R. - Yosemite High Passes Loop trip, July 2013

  • Ian / Colby A belated note from me and all the crew to say thanks for organizing and guiding a great trip on the JMT. Please pass on our huge thanks as well to Drew and Chris (and Lindsay in support) - we thoroughly enjoyed their company as well as their expertise.

    We all have many, many highlights and great memories from our ten days. Personally friends I've spoken with about the trip want to get over there and do it too. The good news is that we'll probably be back for the other half of the JMT soon, no joke!

    Thanks again to all you guys, have a safe rest of the summer trekking and we'll be back in touch someday. Cheers

    Henry T. - Pvt JMT Northbound, Aug 2013

  • Greetings My name is Jerry Eykelbosh. While backpacking and hiking in the Marie Lakes area this past weekend my friend suffered an injury that appeared to maybe include internal bleeding. This injury occurred at 7:PM on August 17. Once my friend and I felt secure that he was comfortable I set out for help. This was around 9:PM. At around 11:30 PM as I was taking my pack off for a rest my headlamp reflected off a tent in the distance. I walked over and asked if anyone had a SPOT or satellite phone. From out in the woods I heard Wilson, who turned out to be an SYMG guide, say he had a cell phone. He climbed out of his peaceful sleep and spent the next 1.5 to 2 hours about 10 minutes uphill from his camp to allow me to use his phone while we talked back and forth with SAR. Wilson even volunteered to make the trek to Marie Lakes to check on my friend, about 3 miles away. We decided that wasn't necessary.

    Because of the chance reflection of my headlamp and the tent and Wilson's help I was able to talk with authorities much sooner than anticipated and get an SAR going immediately.

    My friend was extracted via helicopter at around Noon on August 18. He ended up with a torn urethra and a slight fracture of his pelvis and should recover 100% though he does have to use a catheter and bag for three weeks.

    I have over 120 nights of backpacking experience, this was my first time in a medical situation. I never even thought to bring a cell phone.

    Please let Wilson know that I will always carry a cell phone and I am purchasing a PLB. He reminded of the need to carry a cell phone 2-3 times. In addition I am signing up for a wilderness first aid class in November. Thanks for reading

    Jerry E.

  • Hi Ian and Colby, I wanted to let you know that both my brother and I had an incredible time on our SYMG adventure. There were so many highlights that I can't possibly even begin to list them all. One thing that deserves a special mention were our incredible guides, Ashley and Ryan. They were professional, courteous, easy going, passionate and knowledgeable and kept us all in great spirits (and incredibly well fed!!!) throughout the entire trip. Simply put, I can't imagine having had a better guide experience. Sincerely,

    Stefan & Jean-Michel B. - YGT Backpack Trip, Aug 2013

  • Dear Colby and Ian, I want to thank you for organizing the Nichols trip to Ansel Adams wilderness for us. Although Hal and I were very excited for this adventure we were also apprehensive never having done such a trip before. Ryan and Christina the two guides you provided for our group were superb! Their expertise in guiding the group was evident on all levels! They knew the mountain and led us at a pace that we could all be challenged yet safe. As the weather and terrain changed they continued to assess our group abilities and kept us safe yet challenged. The food was prepared at a chefs level and their camaraderie with our group just enhanced our groups dynamics and enjoyment. They were thoroughly professional the entire time enabling us to enjoy the wilderness and physical exhilaration while being guided in competent hands. It was a lifetime experience that totally surpassed our expectations and we will be forever great up to Ryan and Christina and the rest of SYMG!

    Kathy K. - Private Ansel Adam’s High Sierra Camp, Sept 2013

  • Ian, I was on trip with Ryan and Christina last week. It was a lot of fun. They are both good guides, and we felt very comfortable with them. Everything was nicely done. Thanks.

    Jesse F. - Private Ansel Adam’s High Sierra Camp, Sept 2013

  • Ian- Thank you for checking in about the rest of the trip. It really was everything we had hoped for originally. Both Alex and Carlos were so adept at not only safely guiding us but also making the journey enjoyable. The two of them worked together well and offered so much expertise along the way. Even though our packs were still heavy and the mountain passes unforgivably steep, we both knew that with their guidance we could do it. I learned so much from Alex's knowledge of the Sierra's, of the plants, trees and geographically. And of course, we will always carry Carlo's infectious smile with us that usually convinced everyone that all is well and that each step along the way is to be truly savored.

    So, we truly did have a trip of a lifetime and would recommend it to anyone (who knows, maybe we'll get the chance to hike the JMT again) Happy trails,

    Karen and Russ S. - John Muir Trail Backpack, Aug-Sept 2013

  • Ian, We would like to take a moment to thank you once again for a fantastic trip/adventure. The hiking and scenery was awesome, the climb up Mt. Whitney inspiring. Also, we cannot write/"speak" more highly of our guides Drew Brodhead and Alex Kendrall. They are exceptionally charismatic individuals and excellent leaders. They made the trip an extremely memorable and fun experience.

    We definitely came away with lasting memories of people, places and moments. Thanks once again!

    Amy & Paul I. - Trans Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney Backpack Trip, Sept 2013

  • Hi Ian, I just wanted to extend my thanks for organising the tour this past Sunday and wanted to let you know that we all thought Patrick was just wonderful. The guided tour was better than I could have anticipated thanks to Patrick's awesome personality and obvious knowledge of the area. We had a fabulous time and appreciated his patience and expertise.

    Vicky Dal M. - Yosemite Day Tour, February 2012

  • Ian, I just recently got back from your Rock Camp week with Drew Brodhead. I wanted to send you a note to tell you how impressed I was with the whole program. This trip definitely made the short list of the best trips I have ever done in my life. Drew was a wonderful guide and mentor. I had read over a dozen books on climbing in the past several months in preparation for the week. I was finally able to put all of my book theory into practical use under Drew's instruction. Drew was thorough in explaining the correct use and application of climbing gear that would we encounter in trad climbing. I feel lucky that we were exposed to the very large quantity and variety of different types of trad gear that Drew brought with him. We practiced gear placements and anchor building on the ground and were asked to explain our logic and test each of our placements. I am happy to say that after several hours of instruction on the ground that I lead 2 x 5.6 cracks on that first day, built belay anchor, and belayed my partner while hanging off my anchor.

    Drew was very patient and answered all of questions and provided constructive advice and assistance. Drew even spent a day teaching us aid climbing. Hanging off of placed gear really drove home how to place gear on trad lead. In addition, we were able to work on multi-pitch rope management and belay skills. I never thought that we would be able to cover the amount of topics and skills in such a short amount of time. I will be processing these lessons for years to come.

    I was very impressed with the Rock Camp course organization and Drew's mastery of the subject and teaching ability. Drew was also very accommodating with or restricted menu and was able to create wonderful meals. I would not hesitate to recommend Drew as a climbing instructor to anyone. All of the crags that we ventured to were wonderful, in fact we did not see any other climbers during the entire trip. We felt as if SYMG had closed down the crags for our personal use. I want to thank you for a providing us with a great instructor and a wonderful trip!

    I have spoken with a few friends who are veteran trad climbers and their response was they did not think this type of intense training program still existed. P.S. Although it was great to learn how to pass a knot when doing a double rope TR, It would have been really nice to have a 70M rope! Thank you,

    Aaron M. - Rock Camp, June 2012

  • Hi Ian- Drew showed us such a great time and I've fallen in love with SoYo (region and company!) I'm ready for round two!! This time with my husband. Aaron did a wonderful job of describing our week and I would heartily echo his sentiments. I would not have changed a single thing about our time last week. Hmmm...well, maybe I would extend it another week! Cheers,

    Lisa L. - Rock Camp, June 2012

  • Dear SYMG, Just wanted to write and say how amazing my weekend was at Yosemite and this was largely because of the awesome guidance of Pat and Laura. I felt safe, and well cared for by our amazing leaders. They were so knowledgeable, funny and caring. They worked tirelessly to make sure we were all taken care of! Thanks!

    Bridget L. - Yosemite Falls Loop, June 2012

  • Hi Ian, Just to let you know George and I had a great time on Monday and really enjoyed the day climbing. Drew was great and we hope to get back sometime (for a bit longer next time) to do more climbing in the area. Thanks,

    Jerome T - Private Rock days, June 2012

  • Hi Ian, We just got the evaluation back from the Williams trip and I just wanted to pass along their comments on their guide Jenny Kane. On our rating scale of 1 – 5, they gave her a 5 ++++ and said “we had the most amazing guide ever, Jenny Kane. She made the whole trip. We all just fell in love with her. She was so knowledgeable and fun to be with. They then went on to say, “If there is any way to let Jenny Kane’s employers know how much we enjoyed our experiences with her, we would greatly appreciate it. She just made our trip!”

    Williams Family - Panorama Trail and Ansel Adam’s Wilderness Day Hikes, July 2012

  • Ian- We just got back from trailhead and we're heading back to LA already. The trip was amazing and Ryan was a great guide. I'm definitely looking forward to doing some other trips with you guys. Thanks again,

    Andre S. - Pvt Alpine Lakes, July 2012

  • Wanted to get back to you and let you know our Yosemite trip was a complete success. We had the opportunity to work with 4 of your guides, all were great. I do have to highlight Carlos though. We've been on many trips over the past years...probably worked with over 30 guides over that time. Carlos is above and beyond anyone we ever experienced. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable, but was an absolute joy to be around. He inspired all of us and supported some when they felt they couldn't go any farther. Without helped convince my daughter she could rock climb farther/more than she ever thought possible. And he did the same on our hike to half dome, where all 3 girls at one point wanted to give up. All of the girls looked back on the experience as wonderful. As did the men. Thx again for your help and guidance in the planning as well. As I said, everything worked out great. Best,

    Eifert Family - Multi-Sport Custom Trip, July 2012

  • Dear Mr Brokvist- A note of appreciation on what a superb trek to the top of Half Dome we had with Ashley Burton. Ashley was absolutely outstanding...You are very fortunate to have her on your team! Best Regards,

    Craig S. - Half Dome Trip, June 2012

  • Colby, Just wanted to drop you a quick e mail about our SYMG trip. Phoebe was amazing! She excelled in every category of Guide from food, to local knowledge to the highest levels of professionalism. Literally she could not have handled our tour any better. She received 100% unreserved praise from all 3 members of our group. Only recommendation I could possible make for improvement is to clone her.

    Phoebe truly she made our trip the trip of a lifetime. I am working on plans to return with my 14 year old Niece for a 7 day trip with Phoebe next year. She is a shining gem and reflects VERY well on SYMG. Blue Skies,

    Austin D. - President, Kangaroo Carry LLC - Ansel Adam’s High Sierra Camp, July 2012

  • I was very impressed by your organization, and of course, our two guides Alex Steiner and Wilson Riggs. I just cannot say enough good things about them - you are very lucky to have 2 such capable and personable guides. I learned a few things about myself and met some really nice people on the trip. Thank you,

    Debbie F. - JMT, July 2012

  • Hi Ian - I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed my Yosemite High Passes trip with Ashley. She is a great guide - knowledgeable, organized and helpful. And her cooking on the trail is delicious! Also, thank you for finding me a ride to the trailhead - it was a big help. Being able to car-pool would really help many of your customers. Perhaps, a message board for future trips where participants can contact one another before a trip? Cheers,

    Purnima - Yosemite High Passes Loop, Aug 2012

  • Ian, I just want to write a quick note to you to let you know our guide Ashley Burton did a great job during our six day trip. She handled the small group with great professionalism and a sometime necessary level of patience. We had a great time on our trip and in spite of some challenges with the water filter and a client's worn shoes; the trip didn't miss a beat due in part to Ashley's great leadership and guide skills.

    I would recommend her for a promotion as she is fantastic and did a great job representing your company during our trip! Hats off to you and your team - I am quite sure your other guides are as skilled, but I think our entire group was inspired by her great backcountry cooking! She set the bar rather high if I decide to do another trip next year, but wanted to let you know what a true leader you have in Ashley. Best,

    Curt - Yosemite High Passes Loop, Aug 2012

  • Hi Ian and Colby, I just got back from my trip to Cloud's Rest and Half Dome. It was amazing and much more than I anticipated. I wanted to let you both know that Ashley was a fantastic guide!! As I mentioned to her last night when we parted, she was a great leader, she somehow knew exactly when one of us needed her words of encouragement and was also a fantastic cook! She also fostered a great sense of teamwork with the group (that was great as well). This was my first real backpacking trip and she helped make it a trip of a lifetime and the first of many more to come. In talking with the other participants of the trip, we all felt the same about her.

    If you have an email distribution list or any form of "push" information, please include me. I'm already thinking about the Yosemite Falls/Snow Creek trip next June. Thanks again for everything. I will definitely recommend SYMG to my friends and family.

    Joan S. - Half Dome-Cloud’s Rest Backpack, Aug 2012

  • I just wanted to tell you how great Brianne was to work with on the hike. She has excellent people skills, which were needed in juggling the 8-year old and his dad and the rest of us. She did a great job in making sure everyone's needs were met. She was organized with the camp area and her food prep was great! She made my 14-year old feel special time and time again, with her attention on his birthday "strawberry shortcake" and her time spent teaching him hiking and climbing techniques. Overall, I'm very pleased with SYMG and wish I could do another hike next week (now that I'm back in Oklahoma!)

    Desiree H. - AAHSC Family Departure, Aug 2012