(CBS4) – A backcountry skier whose partner was killed in an avalanche in Eagle County last month said he saw a “powder cloud” and then found his friend buried under several feet of snow. A report from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center about the fatal avalanche says Gary Smith, 37, was killed when the 25 foot wide slide sent him over a 75 foot cliff.

The slide happened on March 22 in the backcountry not far from Beaver Creek Resort in a “very steep, northwest-facing chute.” The report says Smith was skiing close to his partner on the slope but then he took some turns and was no longer in his partner’s line of vision. That’s when the avalanche was accidentally triggered. It was approximately 1,000 feet long.

After the avalanche, Smith’s partner was able to quickly call 911, but Smith died soon afterwards.

Smith was an avid skier who was also once a ski patrolman. He is one of a dozen people who have been killed by avalanches in Colorado during the 2020-21 skiing season.

Jesse Sarles