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Crews Search For Missing Hiker On Mount Rainier Amid Snowy Conditions

Rachel La Corte
AP Photo
Mount Rainier is seen in the distance from a viewpoint within Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

Search and rescue teams are combing the east side of Mount Rainier where a Seattle woman has gone missing amid snowy conditions.

Karen Sykes, an experienced hiker who wrote an outdoors column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was reported overdue late Wednesday. She had gone ahead of her hiking partner on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail where snow cover has reached elevations as low as 4,500 feet. 

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patti Wold said ground crews spent all day Thursday searching the steep terrain.

“And we were able to cover the entire 8-mile trail several times, I believe. And so far, we haven’t turned up anything," Wold said Friday. "But we do have crews back out in the field today. And we are basically focusing on a ground search right now.”

Wold said Friday's weather conditions are not suitable for air search.

Snowy conditions are complicating the mission. On Thursday, a searcher had to be flown out after getting injured while punching through a snow bridge.

The snow also stranded an injured climber in a separate incident in the area. He was airlifted off the mountain after he set off a spot-locator beacon.  

Park officials advise hikers to know their limits and exercise extreme caution if they encounter snow.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to