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Utah hiker goes missing on Washington's Mt. Rainier

Mount Rainier is seen in the distance from a viewpoint within Mount Rainier National Park.
Mount Rainier is seen in the distance from a viewpoint within Mount Rainier National Park.
Rachel La Corte, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah man remained missing on Mt. Rainier in Washington on Friday after embarking on a hike with two friends the day before, national parks officials said.

Kyle Bufis, 25, lost contact with the other two men during severe winds and low visibility, said Patti Wold, a National Park Service spokeswoman.

Bufis' Facebook page indicates he lives in Springdale, a town of about 500 residents near the Utah-Arizona border.

Bufis was with Derek Gavelis and Mathew Wiech when the group reportedly ran into trouble in their descent from an area of the mountain called Liberty Cap at about 9 p.m. Thursday. Bufis was above 14,000 feet when he went missing, Wold said.

As many as 26 searchers scoured the mountain Friday looking for Bufis. Mt. Rainier National Park rangers searched for Bufis in a U.S. Army helicopter twice during the day.

Winds in the high areas of Mt. Rainier were predicted to hit about 70 mph Friday. Gavelis and Wiech made it off the mountain safely despite harrowing conditions, Wold said.

The search for Bufis was suspended at nightfall Friday. It was scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. Saturday.