Outside Business Journal

RIP, Inge Perkins

Perhaps less widely known than her partner, Hayden Kennedy, Inge Perkins was a climbing force in her own right

Kristen Kuchar

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The outdoor industry is devastated after the gut-wrenching news of famous climber Hayden Kennedy’s death. After his father, Michael Kennedy, confirmed his death, we also learned that his partner, Inge Perkins, had died in the avalanche.

The 23-year-old climber and backcountry skier was passionate and accomplished and Mystery Ranch ambassador. Some of the routes she was most proud of include Rodeo Free Europe (14a), Wild Iris; Manhattan Project (14a), The Fins; Vesper (14a), The Fins; The Strawberry Roan (13c/d), Little Popoagie; No Country for Old Men (5.11, trad, 14+ pitches), The Black Canyon; Roadside Prophet (14a), Rifle; and Hook, Line, and Sinker (5.12, 1800’), Mt. Hooker, Wind Rivers.

“Beyond her athletic prowess in the mountains, Inge was one of the most genuinely kind and caring souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” says Kris Hampton, founder, owner and head coach at Power Company Climbing.

“She wrote letters and thank you notes, and sent post cards when she traveled. Inge valued the friendships and the experience over anything else, and she cultivated those at all moments. I truly can’t say enough about how exceptional she was.”

Hampton says working with her was an incredibly rewarding challenge. “We found each other when I was getting started, and she was first thinking of her future as a mountain athlete. We took a chance on each other, and we grew together as a result. I can now trace a direct line from Inge to many of my current clients.”

Hampton says Perkins’s school, work, adventure, and training schedule was challenging, but she happily embraced it, and excelled at all of it.

“We just sat down together a few weeks ago to discuss future goals and ideas about how to reach them, and it breaks my heart to know that this community won’t get to see her achieve those goals. Her ascents and feats in the mountains will be legendary, and it’s a devastating loss for the outdoor community.”

According to Climbing Magazine, she redpointed 5.14 sport, climbed long, hard routes in Colorado’s Black Canyon, and fired 5.12 on 1,800-foot Mount Hooker in Wyoming. One in-a-week accomplishment included ticking both the 5.14 sport climb, Vesper, at the Fins in Montana, and backcountry skiing a 20-mile traverse with 13,000 feet of elevation gain. She topped podiums at bouldering, deep water soloing, and Randonee (ski mountaineering) championships.

Perkins was studying mathematics and education at Montana State University. She and Kennedy had moved to Bozeman while she worked towards her bachelor’s degree, and she was also a climbing coach and math tutor.

Perkins and Kennedy were skiing on Imp Peak in the southern Madison Range when an avalanche was triggered. Perkins was completely buried by the snow, and Kennedy was partially buried. Her body was recovered on Monday by the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

We are reminded even more how her life was cut way too short by her aspirations on her Mystery Ranch Ambassador page.

“The biggest motivation for me to be in the best shape I can be has consistently been my desire to be able to climb lines that inspire me wherever I go,” she said. “As my love for climbing and skiing grows, my dream is to intertwine the two more and more as well as use my drive to push myself in these pursuits as a means to explore magical corners of the world while sharing the excitement with others.”

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