Update: Search over for Karen Sykes, West Seattle author/ photographer lost while hiking Mount Rainier

June 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 17 Comments

At Mount Rainier, the search for West Seattleite Karen Sykes, a prolific hiking writer and nature photographer, is reported to be over. Regional media says it was called off about three hours ago; posts on NWhikers.net pointed to Karen’s daughter Annette Shirey reporting on Facebook that she had been told her mother was found dead. She had commented on WSB last night that she was on her way here after getting word of the search.

No formal confirmation from Mount Rainier yet but KIRO TV’s Chris Legeros tweeted that “the medical examiner is here.” As noted in our first report Friday, Karen was an expert hiker who had written books about hiking and had been an outdoor columnist for multiple publications. We knew her mostly through her photographs – posted to Flickr with the handle “old desolate,” by which she asked to be identified when we published her photos on WSB. She was reported to have been hiking on the east side of Rainier on Wednesday with her partner Bob, with whom she lived in eastern West Seattle, when she went ahead on Wednesday but never returned to rendezvous with him. Search-and-rescue crews have looked on the ground and from the air these past three days. We will add official information when it becomes available.

SUNDAY MORNING: Authorities have reported recovering a body on Rainier and saying the person was female. This morning, Ms. Sykes’s daughter posted this comment on our previous story saying it was her mom.

MONDAY NOTE: The Pierce County Medical Examiner says Ms. Sykes, 70, died of hypothermia.


  1. SO sad

    Comment by morgan — 7:22 pm June 21, 2014 #

  2. King5has just reported they’ve found a body of a woman , search called off

    Comment by Poopie — 7:44 pm June 21, 2014 #

  3. http://www.king5.com/news/local/Search-continues-for-hiker-missing-on-Mount-Rainier-264104671.html

    Comment by Poopie — 7:45 pm June 21, 2014 #

  4. This story is going to have a very sad middle, and ending. Just checked her daughter’s FB page – oh dear…

    Comment by Sarah — 7:49 pm June 21, 2014 #

  5. So sad.

    Comment by Bonnie — 7:52 pm June 21, 2014 #

  6. Absolutely tragic. My thoughts go out to the family and friends.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 7:57 pm June 21, 2014 #

  7. They found her body,RIP.

    Comment by alki resident — 8:18 pm June 21, 2014 #

  8. So sorry to hear this news. Love and prayers to the family.

    Comment by AA — 8:36 pm June 21, 2014 #

  9. That’s just heart-breaking, so sorry Annette to hear this news.

    Comment by Jason — 9:04 pm June 21, 2014 #

  10. Condolences to Annette, and all of Karen’s loved ones…



    Comment by miws — 9:46 pm June 21, 2014 #

  11. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Karen Sykes.

    Comment by kel — 9:55 pm June 21, 2014 #

  12. Very sad. She was truly an adventurous spirit, and a superb writer and photographer as well. Her website is still up. She used to write a great column for the PI, but I believe that erudite publication, in its infinite wisdom, let her go. Now the PI is 85% garbage.

    Comment by Amy — 10:02 pm June 21, 2014 #

  13. Heartbreaking. Condolences to family and friends. She looked to have such an incredible spirit.

    Comment by Biankat — 7:25 am June 22, 2014 #

  14. I would hope we’ll get some further details, since she was apparently found off the expected route. Accident, fall, disorientation, lost, something else? If there’s any lesson to be learned, it would be helpful to know.

    Comment by abovealki — 7:33 am June 22, 2014 #

  15. Really, really sad. Best to her family and friends…

    Comment by ellenater — 12:14 pm June 22, 2014 #

  16. Sad, people like Sykes helped make the PNW a great enjoyable environment to explore.

    Comment by Mike — 5:49 pm June 22, 2014 #

  17. I love the spirit of adventure that Karen Sykes embodied. Condolences to her family and friends…may she rest in peace.

    Comment by Enviromaven — 9:30 am June 23, 2014 #

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