Outdoors

Mount Rainier search suspended when body found

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. – The search for a prominent outdoors writer on Mount Rainier was suspended Saturday when a female’s body was recovered, but the remains weren’t immediately identified, officials said.

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said the body was recovered about 3 p.m. in the area where teams had been searching for 70-year-old Karen Sykes.

She said that the body of a “deceased female” was found off the trail near Boundary Creek in rough, steep terrain – an area difficult to access and not commonly traveled.

There was no immediate word on the cause of death, and Wold said the medical examiner would determine the identity of the deceased.

Park officials had announced earlier in the day that the search had been suspended but did not elaborate.

Sykes hasn’t been seen since she separated from her hiking partner on Wednesday.

She was reportedly working on a story when she and her partner encountered snow at about 5,000 feet. Her partner stayed as she went on, with the idea that they’d reconvene, but she never turned up.

The partner, who made it safely back to the trailhead, reported her missing at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Six ground crews, including two dog teams, combed an expanded search area near the Owyhigh Lakes Trail on Rainier’s east side Saturday. Rescuers also searched by air.

Sykes had adequate survival gear to camp overnight in an emergency, Wold said.

Her friends had hoped that searchers would find her safely sheltered.

Safety concerns for Sykes and search crews included snow bridges, tree wells and steep, wet, slippery terrain, Wold said.

Sykes is well-known in the Northwest hiking community and has written numerous hiking stories for online publications and newspapers. She is also a photographer and has written a book about hikes in Western Washington.

Her disappearance came weeks after six climbers are believed to have fallen to their deaths while attempting to climb a challenging route to the summit of the 14,410-foot peak southeast of Seattle.



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