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    National Park Washington

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Search Operations Underway on Mount Rainier’s Eastside

Two search dogs in vests walk along a trail with their human partners following behind.
Teams from the German Shepherd Search and Rescue of Washington State participate in the search.
NPS/Emily Brouwer

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News Release Date: June 20, 2014
Contact: Patti Wold, 360-569-6701

Friday, June 20, 2014, 9:00 am –Search efforts to locate a missing hiker on the Owyhigh Lakes Trail continue today. In an unrelated incident, an injured climber was air lifted off Double Peak near Eastside Trail on Thursday, June 19th.

The search for the overdue day hiker, Karen Sykes of Seattle, WA, continues today with ground crews scouring the Owyhigh Lakes area. On Thursday, June 19th, ground and air search operations focused on the length of the eight-mile Owyhigh Lakes Trail. She went ahead when the party of two reached snow at approximately 4500-5000 feet in elevation at 3:00 pm. The park received the overdue hiker report at 10:30 pm on Wednesday, June 18, 2014.

Search teams are currently performing ground operations. Air operations will be conducted later in the day if the weather improves. The search area is in steep, rugged terrain with snow cover starting at the 4500-6500 foot level. Ms. Sykes is a knowledgeable hiker and had adequate survival gear to overnight in the event of an emergency.

Current safety concerns for Ms. Sykes and ground crews include snow bridges, tree wells, and steep, wet, and slippery terrain. Yesterday, a searcher sustained an injury caused by punching through a snow bridge. He was air lifted out of the search area.

A second search, initiated in response to a spot locator beacon, resulted in an air lift of an injured climber off of Double Peak yesterday. The climber obtained injuries to his leg that prevented descent under his own mobility.

The German Shepherd Search and Rescue of Washington State, King County Explorers, and Everett, Olympic, and Seattle Mountain Rescue personnel are actively involved in the search efforts. An MD-530 helicopter from Northwest Helicopters in Olympia, Washington was used in support of the incident.

Operations and the information team are working out of the White River Ranger Station in the northeast segment of the park.

Did You Know?

Winter snow buries the lower floors of the Paradise Inn.

At Mount Rainier, winter snowfall is typically heaviest between the elevations of 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Paradise, at 5,420 feet, receives an average of 641 inches of snowfall (nearly 54 feet) every year, making it one of the consistently snowiest places on Earth of those where snowfall is measured.