A renowned mountain climber from Carbondale took his own life after his girlfriend died in an avalanche the couple was caught in on Saturday in Montana's backcountry.
Hayden Kennedy, 27, and Inge Perkins, 23, were on Imp Peak about 20 miles south of Big Sky. The pair used skis with skins to climb up six miles from the Upper Taylor Fork trailhead to around 10,000 feet on the mountain side. While making their way up, they triggered an avalanche.
The avalanche was around 150 feet wide and 300 feet long. Kennedy was partially buried and Perkins was fully buried in the snow. Kennedy tried to search for his girlfriend but was not able to find her. He hiked himself out of the area.
Rescuers did not start searching for Perkins until Monday morning after finding out about the avalanche through a letter Kennedy left before taking his life. It took nine search and rescue volunteers around two and a half hours using probe poles and two avalanche dogs.
The Kennedy family released a statement saying in part that Hayden Kennedy, "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."
His parents said their 27-year-old son recently moved to Bozeman, MT to work on his EMT certification while Perkins was a student at Montana State University working on her bachelor's degree in mathematics and education.
Less than two weeks before the avalanche, Kennedy wrote a blog post for the website called Evening Sends.
"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," he wrote.
The Kennedy family said memorial arrangements are pending.