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In extremely sad news out of Montana, professional climber Hayden Kennedy killed himself after his girlfriend, Inge Perkins, was caught and killed in an early-season avalanche over the weekend. Kennedy was partially buried and took his own life after his girlfriend perished, according to a Facebook post by his father Michael, also reported by multiple outlets. Michael Kennedy is a former editor of Climbing magazine.

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“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,” Michael Kennedy wrote.

According to a Facebook post by Friends of the Gallatin Avalanche Center, “two skiers (now identified) were approaching the north couloir (of Imp Peak) when they triggered the avalanche. Both were caught, one fully buried and one partial. The fully buried skier was recovered from the scene by Gallatin County Search and Rescue yesterday.” Imp Peak is in the southern Madison Mountains near Bozeman, Montana.

In Memory of Hayden Kennedy ⠀ ⠀ It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our friend, Ambassador and true brother of the BD tribe, Hayden Kennedy. ⠀ ⠀ To say Hayden was a talented climber would be an understatement. To say he was one of the world’s best climbers is closer to the truth, yet even those words fall flat and fail miserably at truly describing what Hayden—or HK as we called him—really represented in our sport. He was, with all intents and purposes, a climber who transcended barriers. From high-end 5.14 sport routes at his home crag in Rifle, Colorado, to 5.14 trad lines in the Creek, to the first fair means ascent of Cerro Torre’s Southeast Ridge in Patagonia with Jason Kruk, or his first ascent with Kyle Dempster and Josh Warton on the south face of the Ogre in Pakistan. ⠀ ⠀ Yet, even that run-on list of incredible achievements hardly captures the whole picture. In truth, trying to share the full breadth of HK’s transcendental abilities in the vertical world, which he effortlessly cultivated in a mere 27 years, is impossible. ⠀ ⠀ But to be clear, he was by no means an elitist. In fact, as if born from a different generation, HK was a staunch believer in walking the walk, not talking the talk. You couldn’t find him on social media, and until a few years ago he clung to his malfunctioning, archaic flip phone as if it was a crucial piece to his rack. In short, HK climbed to climb, not to spray. And it was the moments in the mountains that mattered most to him, not “instatweetingmyfacegram” as he would often joke with his friends. ⠀ ⠀ HK’s depth went well beyond climbing, however. In high school he played the sax, and recently he applied that musical theory to the guitar while recovering from a torn ACL in his hometown of Carbondale, Colorado. He diligently practiced during the length of that winter’s recovery, and soon had a repertoire of songs that hinted at his eclectic tastes in music. From old school country to classic rock, to German electronica, he absorbed it all with the same ease that he applied to his climbing. Alpine, sport, trad; country, metal, folk. To HK, it was all good. ⠀ ⠀ …Continued in comments…

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There was no reporting on how Kennedy took his own life nor the timeline. They triggered the avalanche while skinning up the peak–which had received 2-4 feet of snow since September. “Both skiers were caught, skier 1 was partially buried and skier 2 was fully buried,” wrote Friends of the Gallatin. “Skier 1 searched for skier 2, was unable to locate her, and then hiked himself out from the area. On Monday, Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered the body of skier 2. They located her with avalanche probes, buried 3’ deep.” It is not clear where and when Kennedy took his own life.

One thing is certain: the tributes are powerful. After lauding his insane ability on stone, Black Diamond wrote, “He was by no means an elitist. In fact, as if born from a different generation, HK was a staunch believer in walking the walk, not talking the talk. You couldn’t find him on social media, and until a few years ago he clung to his malfunctioning, archaic flip phone as if it was a crucial piece to his rack.”

Perkins, 23, who grew up in Bozeman and was working on a mathematics degree at Montana State, was a solid climber and skilled outdoorswoman in her own right. She was fantastic skier, having descended the Grand Teton, and won the Montana Randonee Championships–a backcountry skiing competition–as well as the Montana Bouldering Championships. Kennedy, who’d moved to Bozeman to work on his EMT certification, was raised in Carbondale, Colorado and had been called one of the best young alpinists of his generation. He was climbing 5.14s as a teen, according to the Adventure Journal, and had put up new routes in remote parts of Pakistan. He established a free ascent of Hallucinogen Wall in Colorado’s Black Canyon in 2016, having a year some called the best in alpine climbing history. At 27, it seemed he still had a long career in front of him.



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