OVERDUE—MISSING, PROBABLY FALL ON ROCK/SNOW, CLIMBING ALONE
Oregon, Mount Hood, Cathedral Ridge
Ken Budlong (45), an experienced Portland climber, was reported overdue from a solo climb of Cathedral Ridge on Monday, September 26. On Sunday night he phoned home with his cellular at high camp and conveyed his plan to ascend the route if the weather was favorable on Monday morning. Ground searchers located his unoccupied tent on the ridge at 7,000 foot elevation. Searchers battled stormy, wet weather for the next four days. On Sunday the weather improved and supported an extensive ground search and three military helicopters. No signs of Budlong were found. The previous storm had dumped at least three feet of avalanche-prone snow on the upper reaches of the mountain. Budlong had summitted Mount Hood over twenty times. It is probable that he fell while high on the route, injuring himself when he landed in a crevasse or moat.
The Cathedral Ridge route, although remote, is not considered difficult or an unreasonable pursuit for experienced climbers. Budlong was well equipped, but was afflicted with a “trick” knee. Solo climbing almost always increases the risk of any climb. (Source: Jeff Sheetz, Portland Mountain Rescue)