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Body found on Mt. Rainier; hunt for writer halted

By The Associated Press

This article was published June 22, 2014 at 9:34 a.m.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. — The Mount Rainier search for missing outdoors writer Karen Sykes has been suspended with the recovery of the body of a "deceased female" in the area where teams have been focusing their efforts.

The body, recovered about 3 p.m. Saturday, wasn't immediately identified.

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said that the remains were 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 person's identity.

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

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

She 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.

At the time of the hike, she was reportedly working on a story when she and her partner encountered snow about 5,000 feet. Her partner stayed as she went on, with the idea that they'd meet up later, but she never turned up.

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

Seven 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.

Her friends had hoped that searchers would find her safely sheltered. Wold said she had adequate survival gear to camp overnight in an emergency.

Safety concerns for Sykes and search crews included snow bridges, tree wells and steep, wet, slippery terrain, Wold said. A searcher was hurt Thursday when he punched through a snow bridge and was airlifted out of the search area.

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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