An avalanche on Imp Peak south of Big Sky on Saturday claimed the life of 23-year-old Inge Perkins of Bozeman. Perkins was ascending the peak on skis with her boyfriend Hayden Kennedy, 27, who was also caught in the slide and partially buried.
According to a statement released by the Kennedy family, “Hayden survived the avalanche but not the unbearable loss of his partner in life. He chose to end his life.” Kennedy was a world-renowned alpinist from Carbondale, Colorado, and had recently moved to Bozeman to work on his EMT certification.
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center avalanche forecasters Doug Chabot and Alex Marienthal are conducting the investigation. According to a statement released today by the avalanche center:On Saturday, Kennedy and Perkins hiked 6 miles from the Upper Taylor Fork trailhead to the north couloir of Imp Peak. Near the bottom of the couloir around 10,000 feet, they triggered an avalanche while ascending on skis with skins.
The avalanche was 1 to 2 feet deep at the crown, approximately 150 feet wide, and 300 feet long. The slope where the avalanche released was 38 to 45 degrees with a north-northeast aspect.
This area received 1 foot of snow since Oct. 1, which was on top of 3 to 4feet of dense snow that fell since Sept. 15. The avalanche was a hard slab of wind-drifted snow that collapsed on a layer of soft old snow underneath, and slid on the old snow from late September.
Both skiers were caught, Kennedy was partially buried and Perkins was fully buried. Kennedy searched for Perkins, was unable to locate her, and then hiked out from the area.
On Monday, Gallatin County Search and Rescue recovered Perkins’ body. They located her buried 3 feet deep with avalanche probes. The Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center will have a full accident report available later this week.
EBS will update this story as more information becomes available.