Kyle Bufis Dead? Search Called Off, Unidentified Male Climber Lifted Off Mount Rainier [Video]

The search for Kyle Bufis was suspended on Saturday after rescuers in a helicopter made a horrific discovery: The body of an unidentified male climber near the summit of Mount Rainier. Although the body has yet to be positively identified, there is strong evidence that it is indeed the missing 25-year-old Utah native.

The Associated Press reported Kyle had climbed the 14,000 ft. glacial peak with two other men, Derek Gavelis and Mathew Wiech, but the group ran into trouble during their descent. Harsh weather conditions, including low visibility, caused Kyle Bufis to become separated from the other two members of the group. He was last seen on Thursday at around 9 pm.

Over the next two days, air and ground searches were conducted to locate Kyle Bufis. It was believed that Bufis was carrying an avalanche beacon; rescuers hoped to use its signal to find him. There was optimism early on that Kyle may have survived as weather conditions were highly favorable during the search.

Unfortunately, during the second day of the rescue mission, a body was spotted near the summit. According to Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patricia Wold, the deceased male climber fits the description of Kyle Bufis.

Although it is very likely that Kyle is deceased, the declaration will not be made until a positive ID is made by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office.

As for Gavelis and Wiech, Wold said that the two men arrived at Camp Schurman on Friday. The spokeswoman described the men as tired, but otherwise in good overall health.

Sadly, Kyle Bufis is apparently the latest climber that has lost his life on Mt. Rainier. Six climbers (two guides and four clients) went missing in May of last year. Three of the bodies weren’t found and positively identified until August. The climbers had intended on a five-day trek but went missing two days into their climb.

Although Kyle and his three-person team ran into bad weather, it’s believed that the six climbers were caught in an avalanche.

With several lives lost within just the last year alone, it’s a dark reminder that the summit Mount Rainier is a deadly location, even in seemingly ideal conditions. The apparent death of Kyle Bufis will likely not deter other climbers eager to tackle the mountain; it’s estimated that as many as 10,000 people attempt to climb the mountain each year.

[Image Credit: Kyle Bufis Instagram]

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