Body found during Mount Rainier search for outdoors writer Karen Sykes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:26am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:26am


The search for a prominent American outdoors writer on Mount Rainier has been suspended after a female body was found.

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said the body had not been identified, but it was found on Saturday in the general area where teams had been searching for Karen Sykes, 70.

Wold said the body was found in rough, steep terrain - an area difficult to access and not commonly travelled.

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

Sykes had not been seen since she separated from her hiking partner on Wednesday.

She reportedly was working on a story when she and her partner encountered snow at about 1,524 metres. Her partner stayed as she went on, with the idea that they would reconvene, but she never turned up.

Sykes had adequate survival gear to camp overnight and friends had hoped that searchers would find her safely sheltered.

Well known in the hiking community, Sykes had written numerous hiking stories for online publications and newspapers, authored a guide book about hikes, and co-wrote another book about hiking among wildflowers.

She maintained a blog and posted thousands of photographs, snapping everything from rivers and jagged peaks to purple flowers, turtles and snakes.

Her adventurous spirit often lurked just below the surface. She captioned one picture of a hike through thick, green underbrush this way: "We explore off trail despite there being no good reason to do so."

Close friend Lola Kemp had planned to hike with Sykes this weekend.

"She is the guru of trails," Kemp said, adding that Sykes hiked at least twice a week and had a background in climbing and scrambling. "I find it difficult to imagine she would get lost."

Her disappearance came weeks after six climbers fell to their deaths while trying to climb a challenging route to the summit of the 4,390-metre peak southeast of Seattle.

Additional reporting by McClatchy-Tribune