Snowboarder dies at China Peak after falling head-first into deep powder

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The unexpected five feet of snow over the last 24 hours allowed China Peak to reopen following an extremely dry winter season but it also serves as a somber reminder of just how treacherous the conditions can be.

Officials say a 36-year-old, Blake Smith, of Fresno, died Friday after falling headfirst into the deep snow and suffocated.



Friends and family say he was training for an upcoming competition and had traveled to multiple resorts this winter to earn a trip to snowboard in Japan.

According to officials, the incident happened near Chair 2, in the trees between Exhibition and Tamarack. The man was snowboarding on an off prepared ski run at the time, a practice that comes with a warning.

"Stay close to the groomed run even if you're in the powder, if you get in trouble you can crawl your way back. This is almost chest deep," Tim Cohee said.

The resort remains open and is expected to stay that way thru Mother's Day

According to officials, the last time the resort reported this type of death was back in 2011 At the top of the four lanes.
RELATED: China Peak reports four to five feet of snow as the ski resort reopens

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