Renowned mountain climber commits suicide after surviving avalanche that killed his girlfriend
A renowned alpinist committed suicide one day after he survived an avalanche that killed his girlfriend.
Hayden Kennedy, 27, was skiing with girlfriend Inge Perkins, 23, at Imp Peak in Bozeman, Montana, on Saturday when they triggered an avalanche, according to the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.
Perkins, an avid climber and ski mountaineer, was buried 3 feet under the avalanche measuring 150 feet by 300 feet, the sheriff’s office said.
Kennedy, hailed as one of the world’s greatest alpinists, was only partially buried and managed to dig himself out and search for Perkins.
Unable to find her, Kennedy hiked out of the area.
Click through to see images of the couple:
Doug Chabot, of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, told Outside Magazine that Kennedy left a note with “incredibly clear directions for where to find her” in lieu of calling 911.
As a rescue team set out to look for Perkins on Sunday, Kennedy committed suicide at his home in Bozeman, according to the Denver Post.
The 27-year-old’s father, legendary climber Michael Kennedy, issued a statement Tuesday that read, “Inge Perkin’s body was recovered by the Gallatin County Search & Rescue at the base of Mt. Imp on October 9th.”
“Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life. Myself and his mother Julie sorrowfully respect his decision,” he added.
Hayden Kennedy had recently moved to Bozeman to work towards his EMT certification, while Perkins was enrolled in the Montana State University, where she was studying mathematics and education, the Kennedy family said.
Perkins, who grew up traversing the mountains of Montana and Norway with her parents, hoped to continue pursuing her passion for climbing and skiing around the world, she wrote in her biography on Mystery Ranch. She also won the Montana Bouldering Championships among other competitions.
Hayden Kennedy, who famously climbed Cerro Torre of Patagonia in South America in 2012, was remembered by his family as an “uncensored soul whose accomplishments as a mountaineer were always secondary to his deep friendships and mindfulness”.
Their deaths sent shockwaves through the climbing world, and footwear company SCARPA wrote on their Facebook, “These two young adventurers inspired us all to push our limits and most importantly, have fun doing it."
"Excelling at running, climbing, and skiing, the pair was always living life to the fullest and showing the world just how that’s done,” the tribute continued.
Just weeks before Kennedy’s death, he wrote on the blog Evening Sends, “Over the last few years, however, as I’ve watched too many friends go to the mountains only to never return, I’ve realized something painful.”
“It’s not just the memorable summits and crux moves that are fleeting. Friends and climbing partners are fleeting, too. This is the painful reality of our sport, and I’m unsure what to make of it. Climbing is either a beautiful gift or a curse,” he said.