On October 7th, Hayden Kennedy, 27, and his partner, Inge Perkins, 23, were struck by an avalanche while skiing on Montana’s Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center reports:

“Both skiers were caught, [Hayden] was partially buried and [Inge] was fully buried. [Hayden] searched for [Inge], was unable to locate her, and then hiked himself out from the area.”

Inge died in the avalanche, her body later recovered by the local SAR team. Unable to bear the loss, Hayden took his own life on Sunday, October 8th.

Born in Carbondale, Colorado, Hayden climbed his first multi-pitch at only 13 years old, the Kor-Ingalls route on Castleton Tower. Forgoing college, he opted to pursue a life of adventure, quickly establishing himself as one of the world’s top climbers. He ticked 5.14 sport routes, 5.13 splitters, and at just 21 years old, he—along with partner Jason Kruk—completed the first “fair means” ascent of Cerro Torre’s southeast ridge in Patagonia.

Related: Read our Climber Spotlight Interview with Hayden Kennedy

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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Posted on Black Diamond’s Instagram account, Hayden’s partner, Inge, is described as

… every bit Hayden’s equal. A brilliant climber, skier, and beautiful soul, Inge was HK’s latest source of dedication—and his commitment was unwavering as always.

A native of Bozeman, Inge was an accomplished backcountry skier and climber. She sport climbed up to 5.14, had skied 20-mile backcountry traverses, and was recently working toward a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and education.

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For further reading, take a look at Hayden’s recent essay at Evening Sends: The Day We Sent Logical Progression.

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