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Retired Oak Harbor teacher's body recovered in mountains

The body of a former Oak Harbor school teacher was recovered by a search and rescue team in a Snohomish County Sheriff's Office helicopter Thursday near Mount Larrabee in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Dallas Kloke, a 71-year-old Anacortes resident, was found at an elevation of about 6,600 feet on the Paleiades peaks, according to Deputy George Ratazczak, search and rescue coordinator for the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office in a news release. The recovery took place at about 9 a.m. that day and went smoothly, he said.

Kloke, a well-known and widely respected mountaineer in the Northwest, fell near the summit Saturday, Sept. 25, when the rock he was holding came loose. The other four members of his climbing party looked for Kloke but was unable to find anything but some of his equipment.

The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office began searching the area but their efforts were hampered over the next several days due to poor weather and tough terrain. They got a break Monday when the weather cleared just enough for helicopter crews to take digital photos of the area and pinpoint Kloke's exact position.

His location and elevation on the south face of the mountain was confirmed Wednesday by a Bellingham Mountain Rescue in a U.S. Customer and Border Protection helicopter. The information was used to plan Thursday morning's recovery.

According to Ratazczak, Kloke's family was present and wanted to express their gratitude to all the search and rescuers who helped look for Kloke over the past week. Without their dedication and hard work, he would never have been returned to his family, the release said.

Kloke was a former longtime Oak Harbor Middle School teacher and was widely recognized as a top-notch mountain climber in the Northwest. He is the author of "Rock the Rocks," a climbing and route guide for Mount Erie near Lake Campbell south of Anacortes.

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