The body of Stephen Lyman, a popular nature artist from Sandpoint, was recovered from a rocky ledge in a rugged area of Yosemite National Park on Saturday.
Lyman had been missing since Wednesday, when he set out on a day hike in the Cathedral Rocks area. The artist was on his 41st trip to Yosemite seeking inspiration for his paintings.
Two climbers were descending from a route on Middle Cathedral Rock at 7 p.m. Friday when they discovered a body in a steep, rocky gully, said park spokesperson Nikyra Calcagno.
“The gully is more vertical than horizontal. It’s craggy, loose granite,” Calcagno said. The rocks were wet and icy, apparently causing Lyman to fall 30 to 50 feet, rangers said.
Lyman, 38, was an experienced outdoorsman, who apparently enjoyed hiking in the Cathedral Rocks area because of the peregrine falcons roosting there.
His disappearance prompted a full-scale search involving 60 people, four dog teams and a helicopter.
Searchers focused on the Cathedral Rocks area after finding his vehicle near there. Lyman was last seen in the park’s research library Wednesday.
Lyman’s wife, Andrea, identified her husband’s body at a temporary park morgue about 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Calcagno said.
The Lymans have two boys, ages 8 and 10.
Rescuers did not reach the body on its rocky perch until 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The body was airlifted out.
Two days earlier, a ranger had heard a cry for help in the same area, but was unable to find anyone, according to park officials.
It snowed at Yosemite in the central Sierra Nevada on Wednesday. Nighttime temperatures have been in the 30s, rangers said.
Lyman was reported missing after he failed to appear at a Thursday interview in Sacramento about his book of art, “Into the Wilderness, An Artist’s Journey.”
The book sold out its 50,000-copy first printing within a few months on the market last year.
Lyman is known for wilderness landscapes that feature campfires. A print of “Mountain Campfire,” his first campfire scene, now sells for $4,000.
Last month, U.S. Art Magazine listed Lyman as the fourth most popular limited-edition print artist in the country.
“This will be a tragic loss to his family and the art community,” said fan Mary Jo Sattler of Spokane, whose family owns three Lyman prints. When she met her favorite artist face-to-face, she found him “so friendly, so down to earth.”
Lyman’s prints are sold in 800 galleries across the United States, Canada and Great Britain, including The Lyman Gallery, which he co-owned with Jeff Poole in Sandpoint.
Poole went to Lewiston Saturday to join Lyman’s relatives.
Lyman grew up in Lewiston. He attended college at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., graduating at the top of his class in 1979. He and his family settled in Sandpoint in the late ‘80s.
Yosemite National Park has 4.1 million visitors and about 17 or 18 fatalities each year, Calcagno said. Most of the deaths are from car accidents, drowning and rock-fall or climbing accidents, she said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Susan Drumheller Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.