Stuart's North Ridge in Winter


Taking full advantage of fine conditions, Mark Bunker and Colin Haley did the first winter ascent of the complete North Ridge of Mount Stuart in Washington state. One of the North Cascades' great classics, the North Ridge requires nearly 3,000 feet of superb, remote granite climbing. Bunker, 42, had attempted the winter ascent five times previously over 17 years with Don Preiss before teaming up with Haley, 20. The two tried the route once in December but retreated from halfway up in deep snow and severe weather.This time, a warm spell and rain followed by a deep freeze had set up the snow perfectly. The two approached the route on their first day and bivied at the base, then climbed two aid pitches and fixed their ropes. On the third day, they jugged the ropes, tossed one down, and continued on mostly dry rock to the North Ridge Notch. After a third bivy, they aided the crux Great Gendarme pitches and continued up easier ground in the dark, reaching the summit at 11:15 p.m. They downclimbed the Sherpa Glacier Couloir, retrieved the gear left at the first bivy site, and hit the sack after 3 a.m. Bunker and Haley have formed a superb partnership over the past few years, completing the first full traverse of the Southern Pickets in the Cascades in 2003, with Wayne Wallace, and the second full Waddington Traverse in British Columbia in 2004.