A climber’s body, found on Mount Rainier, caused the suspension of the search for climber Kyle Bufis.
According to NBC News, the National Park Service has suspended the search for Bufis when an unidentified climber’s body, found near the summit where Bufis was last seen, was located. Bufis was lost around 9 a.m. on Thursday on the north side of Mount Rainier, during a time when high winds and low visibility enveloped the mountain.
The three campers, Bufis, 25, Derek Gavelis, and Mathew Weich, were on Liberty Gap near Liberty Ridge, one of the more technically difficult climbs on the mountain. The group was on the way down when the weather changed, with winds blustering to 70 miles per hour and dense fog rolling in. At about 14,000 feet, the group discovered that the had left a piece of equipment, a gas stove, behind at their original camping spot. Thinking it wasn’t that far, Bufis volunteered to retrieve it on Thursday. He has not been seen since.
The other climbers contacted family member via text message to say that the weather had turned and Bufis was missing. The family members contacted the National Park Service, and a formal search was launched.
During the search, a helicopter, searching for the climber’s body found a body fitting Bufis’ description about 200 feet below Mount Rainier’s volcanic rim, near the last camping site. The body was retrieved and will be formally identified by the Pierce County Medical Examiner.
The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that the search for the Utah climbing instructor focused on the difficult confluence of the Emmons and Winthrop glaciers.
“The [route they took] is one of the most difficult routes on the mountain,” said Patti Wold, spokeswoman for the National Park Service. “It is not highly traveled.”
“They had made a camp for the night… but the first one didn’t work out. They had to pack up and move,” Wold said. “They didn’t move that far. They were trying to get out of the winds.”
After the weather had subsided a bit, both Gavelis and Weich reached Camp Schurman late Friday afternoon. Both Gavelis and Weich were tired, but in otherwise good condition, according to the National Park Service.
The high winds were unexpected this weekend. During the search for the missing climber, air personnel reported that wind gusts reach 70 miles an hour again.
Authorities expect to be able to identify the climber’s body found within the next day or two.
[Image courtesy of KING5]