WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- World-class climber Hayden Kennedy and girlfriend, Inge Perkins, went backcountry skiing on Imp Peak last Saturday when they triggered an avalanche.
- The two were swept to the bottom of the slope where Perkins was fully buried and died at the scene.
- Kennedy was found dead in his home the next day.
On October 7, climbers Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins hiked Imp Peak in Southwest Montana and encountered a skiing accident.
Partially buried, Kennedy was able to free himself but his search for his girlfriend was fruitless. He hiked out of the area and looked for help, although no 911 call was recorded.
Devastated by his girlfriend’s death, he committed suicide. He left a note detailing where Perkins could be found. Her body was recovered by the Gallatin County Search and Rescue.
Kennedy has been considered as one of the best climbers in the world. In 2014, Elevation Outdoors magazine even said that he “may be the best young climber on the planet.” His father is Michael Kennedy, former Climbing magazine’s editor-in-chief for 30 years.
On Oct. 11, his father posted this message on Facebook, “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.”
The couple lived in Bozeman where Kennedy was working on his EMT certification. Unlike other sports enthusiasts, he is not on any social media platform and didn’t document much of his accomplishments.
In a 2013 interview with Outside magazine, he told them “My passion for climbing is my own experience and doesn’t need to be blow[n] out of portion.”
Kennedy has plenty of ascents, including famously difficult Baintha Brakk near K2 in Pakistan’s striking Karakoram range, in 2012. In the same year though, Kennedy was involved in a controversy when he and Jason Kruk climbed up the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre on the border of Chile and Argentina.
The duo removed 125 bolts that were used by controversial Italian climber Cesare Maestri in 1970. Maestri was only able to ascend the mountain in 1970 because he drilled around 400 bolts into the tower to use them as a ladder.
Kennedy and Kruk removed the bolts aiming to redeem the “pure spring of mountaineering.” They said climbers use bolts but not so many that they take away the true essence of climbing. They were arrested by Argentinian police.
One week before his suicide, Kennedy wrote an essay about his trip to climb Logical Progression and the succeeding deaths of his two friends who went with him on the climb. It’s a touching story about “living on the edge” which he and his girlfriend lived. Hayden Kennedy was 27 years old, and Perkins was 23.