Avalanche report shows man died after being swept off cliff

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FRISCO |  A final report by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has revealed that a man who died after being caught in a small avalanche in Colorado last month was swept over a 75-foot cliff.

Eagle County resident Gary Smith and a partner were skiing on a steep slope in the backcountry near Beaver Creek Resort on March 22 when the avalanche occurred, the Summit Daily News reported Wednesday.

Skiers often access the area by leaving the resort from the top of the Larkspur Express Chairlift. The report said the ski area boundary is “permanently closed” in that location.

The report said Smith took four to five turns before dropping out of view of his partner, who saw a “powder cloud” and believed there was an avalanche. The partner then located Smith fully buried under about 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow and called 911.

Officials said that the avalanche danger was low below treeline, near where they were skiing. The report described snowpack, which was up to 50 inches (1.3 meters) deep, as “thin and weak.”

Summit Daily News reported that Smith was the fifth Eagle County resident to die in an avalanche this season.

 

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