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Skier killed in avalanche near Beaver Creek

The slide occurred Monday afternoon in an area known locally as Sanctuary Chute.

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — A skier died Monday after he or she was caught in an avalanche just outside the boundary of the Beaver Creek Ski Area, according to a Facebook post from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

The slide happened around 2 p.m. in an out-of-bounds area known locally as Sanctuary Chute and occurred below treeline in a steep northwest-facing chute at an elevation of around 10,500 feet.

The victim was identified as 37-year-old Gary Smith by the Eagle County Coroner's Office on Tuesday.

Smith was described as a beloved local and aid skier with experience as a former ski patrolman by Eagle County Sheriff's Office (ECSO).

A second skier was able to dig himself out of the slide, locate Smith and call for help, according to ECSO.

Recovery operations were conducted by Beaver Creek Ski Patrol and Vail Mountain Rescue Group.

>The video above is an earlier report about avalanche danger in Colorado.

The backcountry avalanche forecast in Eagle County has consistently been rated as considerable this season by CAIC. That means it is important for travelers to take the time to analyze layers of snowpack and test stability, especially on slopes between 30 and 45 degrees.

CAIC forecasters will visit the accident site and will update this report as more information becomes available. 

This is the 12th avalanche fatality in Colorado this season, according to CAIC.

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