Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
BCG Holiday Sale
Backpacking Forums
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Stay Healthy--Eat Well


Mary Janes Farm Organic Backcountry Meals


Natural High


Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#185925 - 06/24/14 04:47 PM Let's be careful out there
Rick_D Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Somebody of this experience level succombing to hypothermia isn't unthinkable so much as a forceful reminder to never presume we can't make the same mistakes.

Karen Sykes

The well-known hiker whose body was found on Mount Rainier over the weekend died of hypothermia, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday.

Karen Sykes, 70, of Seattle, had been reported missing late Wednesday when she failed to meet up with her boyfriend as planned during a day hike in the Owyhigh Lakes area near Mount Rainier.

Mount Rainier National Park officials suspended a three-day search for her on Saturday when they discovered the body of a woman in their search area near the eastern branch of Boundary Creek in rough, steep terrain.

Could think of worse ways to meet my fate, but will wager she believed she had many more hikes ahead of her.

Carry extra clothing and use it before you get cold, eat before you get hungry, drink even if you're not thirsty, recognize when it's time to turn around.

#185927 - 06/24/14 06:26 PM Be careful what you believe in the media [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6415
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Karen did have the extra clothing, and all the other 15 "Ten" Essentials with her. Her hiking partner (who stopped at the snowline and reported her missing when she didn't return) confirmed this. As a longtime Mountaineers member, trip leader and instructor, as well as author, Karen would never, never have gone without them.

Very few of the media yesterday--I think only the Seattle Times--picked up on the fact that the coroner cited heart disease as a contributing factor. It looks as though you missed that, Rick--maybe the update was added after you linked to the article.
Seattle Times article: (emphasis mine)
UPDATE, 4:52 p.m. | Karen Sykes died of hypothermia with the secondary cause of heart disease, the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office said this afternoon. Her death was determined to be an accident.

The Washington State hiking community is devasted. I knew Karen only from her articles (back in the 1980s) in the now-defunct Signpost Magazine and her many posts on the hiking forum. She was an outstanding advocate of hiking, the Pacific Northwest and of hiking trails. Please, please don't let this wonderful woman be remembered for a "mistake" she did not commit!

There are (so far) 17 pages in the forum devoted to concern and (when the bad news came) tributes to Karen Sykes.

I can think of far worse ways to go!

Edited by OregonMouse (06/24/14 07:05 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#185955 - 06/26/14 01:35 PM Re: Be careful what you believe in the media [Re: OregonMouse]
Rick_D Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
You and I infer different takes on what occurred. Mine is that hypothermic stress triggered a cardiac event, not vice versa (hence, "secondary"). We may never know.

My reminder to all who hike in conditions that can lead to core temperature loss is that you may not recognize it occurring and not take needed steps to first halt then reverse it. In other words, a pack with all the necessary remedies and a lifetime of experience can still let you down. I'd guess Lori and other S&R folks could offer relevant examples of just this occurring. The runner who recently survived two nights in the American River canyon, clad in just shorts and a windbreaker, is a contra example.

I'm comfortable suggesting that as an esteemed outdoor advocate and educator, Ms. Sykes would want us to learn from her tragic fate.

Like most backcountry travelers and distance cyclists, I've experienced at least the early stage of hypothermia. I've also hiked with friends who progressed past the initial stage and required intervention (which, ironically, they sometimes resist). It's sneaky and not necessarily recognized, especially by the one affected; in short, you're no longer yourself.

A CPR card is only valid for a year because people forget what they don't actively do. I think at least some aspects of standard backcountry health and safety skill and knowledge can be similarly transitory. Reading this sad tale has me revisiting some long-ignored resources.

#185979 - 06/27/14 03:41 PM Re: Be careful what you believe in the media [Re: Rick_D]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6415
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
From this lovely article, it appears that the heart disease factor was "arteriosclerotic vascular disease, a type of hardening of the arteries," which would result in impaired circulation (which would make the onset of hypothermia much faster) and very possibly in weakness or dizziness which would have prevented her from getting clothing out of her pack. Not a cardiac event, but a chronic condition. Assuming, of course, that the article is accurately reporting the autopsy report….

i wonder if she even knew she had this problem? So much heart disease among active, slender women is never diagnosed until the autopsy! It's fat ladies like me who get all the doctors' attention!

Edited by OregonMouse (06/27/14 04:57 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#186078 - 07/07/14 07:57 PM Re: Let's be careful out there [Re: Rick_D]
bobito9 Offline

Registered: 01/25/08
Posts: 386
Sad! Sounds like she was really experienced with the area, too. But, boy is Rainier a big risk for hypothermia, especially if you spend the night out there on a day-hike. Yikes you can get wet and cold!

#186080 - 07/07/14 08:31 PM Re: Be careful what you believe in the media [Re: Rick_D]
ndsol Offline

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By Rick_D
A CPR card is only valid for a year because people forget what they don't actively do.

The CPR card that I just received last month is good for two years (as was the prior one). The Bloodborne Pathogens certification is only good for one year.


Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Cheap Shoes
by 4evrplan
02/02/18 05:51 PM
Rain/wind jackets
by Barefoot Friar
01/24/18 11:44 AM
Shelter Advice
by Monsieurp
12/26/17 10:31 AM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Sawtooths or Medicine Bow, Wyoming
by toddfw2003
02/06/18 09:35 AM
Backpacking musicians! I need your help!
by Yellowmusic
02/05/18 06:02 PM
Value in lightening loads - a Defense Pespective
by Steadman
01/30/18 09:53 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
I Made Bamboo Trekking Poles
by 4evrplan
01/17/18 12:36 PM
36-gram butane canister with Lindal valve
by 41253
12/23/17 07:04 PM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
1 registered (), 30 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
HeelerDad, pikameep, SingingSabre, Softband, mountainman
12512 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Family Hiking
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Outdoor Gear Daily Deals
Outlets, Sales, Bargains

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker &