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Human Interest

Montana Hiker Dies of Suicide Shortly After His Girlfriend Perishes in Avalanche

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Inge Perkin/Instagram

A hiker took his own life following the loss of his girlfriend, who perished in an avalanche just days ago.

On Oct. 7, Hayden Kennedy and his girlfriend Inge Perkins  both experienced climbers  were caught in an avalanche on Montana’s Imp Peak near Bozeman, according to the Associated Press.

Kennedy, 27, was only partially buried, but after freeing himself he failed to find his girlfriend, reported KTLA. He ended his life the next day.

Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center told Outside that although Hayden “never called 911” to report the incident, he did leave “a note with locations as to where the avalanche happened. They were incredibly clear directions for where to find her.”

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In a statement released on Tuesday, Kennedy’s father wrote that although “Hayden survived the avalanche,” he couldn’t bear “the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life. Myself and his mother Julie sorrowfully respect his decision.”

“Hayden truly was an uncensored soul whose accomplishments as a mountaineer were always secondary to his deep friendships and mindfulness,” Kennedy’s father continued. “He recently moved to Bozeman to work on his EMT certification while Inge completed her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education at Montana State University.”

The family also added that Perkins’ body was recovered at the base of Mt. Imp on Monday.

Black Diamond Equipment — a Utah-based climbing equipment manufacturer — commemorated Kennedy’s life on Facebook, saying, “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.”

And footwear retailer SCARPA — which stands for Società Calzaturiera Asolana Riunita Pedemontana Anonima — shared a message for both Perkins and Kennedy on their Facebook page, alongside some sweet photos of Perkins.

“The SCARPA family is devastated to hear about the loss of SCARPA athlete, Inge Perkins, and dear friend of the brand, Hayden Kennedy. 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. Our deepest condolences go out to their families and the community that will never be the same without them. We’ll miss you both. Thank you for all of the smiles.”

In September, acknowledging the inherent dangers in climbing, Kennedy wrote a story for Evening Sends, saying, “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.”

If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Lineat 741741 or seeking help from a professional.