Champion mountain climber takes own life after losing girlfriend in avalanche

Champion mountain climber takes own life after losing girlfriend in avalanche

Gallatin County Search and Rescue says 23-year-old Bozeman resident Inge Perkins died in a weekend avalanche in southwestern Montana.

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. Kennedy was only partially buried in the 150-foot-slide and eventually freed himself and hiked to find help after he couldn't locate Perkins.

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.

Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered the Perkin's body on Monday from the area about 20 miles southwest of Big Sky.

The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center said it will release more details later in the week.

Two weeks before Perkins died, Kennedy wrote in his blog about how the mountains are a handsome place but also an unforgiving terrain because he has lost so many friends to accidents. But Kennedy's father, Michael Kennedy, who was editor of Climbing Magazine for more than two decades, beamed with pride. A sudden avalanche hit the two of them, Hayden was successful in freeing himself, but there was no sign of Inge anymore. Reflecting on his ascent of Logical Progression in Mexico alongside Chris Kalous, Kyle Dempster, and Justin Griffin, Hayden remarked: 'There's no easy way to say this, but half that team is now dead.' Hayden wasreferring to Griffin, who died in Nepal in 2015, and to Dempster's disappearance in Pakistan's Ogres previous year. 'He chose to end his life.

The tragedy comes just weeks after Hayden wrote a lovely piece on climbing in the wake of tragedy. Justin died in Nepal in 2015.

Kennedy wrote on the "Evening Sends" blog that it's the painful reality of the sport and that "climbing is either a attractive gift or a curse". I think about Kyle and Justin all the time.

As Denver Post shares, Kennedy and Perkins-also an adept climber-recently moved to Bozeman where he was working on his EMT certificate.

"An awareness of mortality prompts us to focus on what's important: developing a strong community of family and friends; engaging in work that stretches us intellectually, creatively and emotionally; understanding that no matter how often we've erred or compromised in the past, we must always try to reach again for the highest ideals", he wrote.

Hayden was a highly talented and respected climber with all-round abilities in the mountains, having made noteworthy ascents worldwide, from hard rock routes near his home in Colorado to new routes on Himalayan peaks.

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