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Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins

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Hayden Kennedy and Inge Perkins (Photo courtesy Kennedy family)
Hayden Kennedy survived the avalanche that claimed the life of his girlfriend, Inge Perkins, 23, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. The next day, he ended his own life. He was 27.

The Denver Post described Kennedy as the son of climbing royalty, and one of the most skilled and passionate climbers of his generation.

The couple were on a skiing trip near their home in Bozeman, Mont. Perkins, like Kennedy, was an avid mountain climber and outdoor enthusiast, according to The New York Daily News.

Kennedy was partially buried in the avalanche. He dug himself out, but was unable to locate Perkins. He then made the difficult decision to hike out of the area on his own. Perkins’ body was later recovered by authorities who praised the detailed directions Kennedy had provided them.

Kennedy's father, Alpinist magazine editor emeritus Michael Kennedy, said in a statement Tuesday: “Having lived for 27 years with the great joy and spirit that was Hayden Kennedy, we share the loss of our son and his partner Inge Perkins … Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life."

Kennedy had recently moved to Bozeman to work on his EMT certification, his father said, while Perkins attended Montana State University.

In a heartfelt tribute on Facebook, Black Diamond sporting goods company, Kennedy’s sponsor, wrote about his ability to share his love of climbing with others: “He often wrote about his expeditions to the greater ranges—frequently publishing pieces in Alpinist, Rock and Ice, Evening Sends and other mags and websites—and his ability to weave a meaningful narrative through the trials and tribulations of climbing was innate. He also incorporated this skill into his live presentations, where he’d hold the audience rapt with tales that often crossed into the deeper reaches of loss and love and how they become undivided in a life of climbing.”

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, he or she should not be left alone. Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides free, confidential support for people in crisis or emotional distress, 24/7 year-round. The Lifeline also offers an online chat for people who prefer to reach out online rather than by phone.
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