Avalanche claims life of Pemberton heli-ski guide
An avalanche claimed the life of 38-year-old Eric Larrat Smith, a long-time Pemberton resident and experienced backcountry guide while he was leading a March 19 heli-ski tour into the "Wasp" Creek drainage area.
According to Pemberton RCMP, Smith had performed numerous avalanche tests that day and on previous days in the area, and was performing a confirmation run when the slide occurred.
The tour group booked a charter with Pemberton Helicopters from their home state of Hawaii and hooked up with Smith and another guide when they arrived. Smith was with the first of three skiers to land at the scene. Another three skiers were flying to the slope with the second guide when they witnessed the avalanche.
Pemberton Helicopters brought rescuers to the slide, who took approximately 30 minutes to locate and dig Smith’s body out of approximately 1.5 meters of snow. They performed CPR until a doctor, flown in by helicopter, pronounced Smith dead at the scene. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
According to the Canadian Avalanche Advisory, the avalanche risk in the Whistler and Pemberton areas was "considerable" at the time of the incident.