World-class alpinist Hayden Kennedy and his partner, Inge Perkins, were backcountry skiing in Montana on Saturday when an early-season avalanche on Imp Peak near Bozeman took the couple by surprise at 10,000 feet.
The slide buried Perkins, 23, and partially covered Kennedy, 27. He searched in vain but never found Perkins, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
Kennedy went home and took his own life, Outside reported.
“Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life,” his parents said in a statement.
His father Michael Kennedy, himself an accomplished mountaineer, was the longtime editor of Climbing magazine; his mother Julie Kennedy founded an adventure film festival in Carbondale, Colorado, where the family lives.
Both Kennedy and Perkins were outdoor athletes sponsored by major gear brands, but neither had the broader name recognition among the general public that some rock climbers have gained. Kennedy eschewed self-promotion, his friend professional climber Cedar Wright wrote on Facebook.
After the avalanche, Kennedy left “incredibly clear directions for where to find” Perkins’ body, Doug Chabot of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center told Outside.
Perkins, also a talented climber and skier, was wearing a beacon that could have led rescuers to her, but it was turned off, Chabot says. Her body was recovered Monday morning under 3 feet of snow, per the Post Independent of Rifle, Colorado.
The couple had moved to Bozeman so Perkins could pursue a degree in math and education at Montana State University. Kennedy, hailed in 2014 as maybe “the best young climber on the planet,” was studying for an EMT certification.
“The last time I talked to Hayden, a couple of weeks ago, he was settling into his new more chill life in Bozeman with Inge, and was super stoked on baking bread, trail running, and enjoying some safe rock climbing,” Wright wrote of his friend. “He was done with chasing accomplishments or risking his life in the mountains and just wanted to have a long and fruitful existence with the one he loved.”
Kennedy wrote recently of the pain of seeing “too many friends go to the mountains only to never return. … Climbing is either a beautiful gift or a curse.”
As tributes flowed to the pair, Kennedy’s family says they “sorrowfully” respect his final decision and remembered “an uncensored soul whose accomplishments as a mountaineer were always secondary to his deep friendships and mindfulness.”
KTLA’s Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Newser: After Avalanche Kills Her, Climber Takes His Life
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