BOZEMAN, Mon. - World-class ice climber Guy Lacelle died Thursday when an avalanche swept him off a mountain in southwestern Montana.

The Canadian was climbing a gully when a team above him triggered a small avalanche, said Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.

"A small pocket of snow pulled out and caught him," Chabot told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. "It hit him and took him off the cliff, down the ice."

More than 20 rescuers responded to Hyalite Canyon to retrieve the body. Deputy Chief Coroner Dan Springer said the 54-year-old Lacelle died from the fall.

He was known for several notable ice ascents and won the Ice Competition in Ouray, Colorado, in 2000 and 2001, as well as the Festiglace Competition in Quebec in 2004.

John Irvine, the sports marketing manager for the climbing equipment company Arc'teryx, called Lacelle a "fanatical ice climber" and said his death is a "huge, huge loss."

Irvine said Lacelle was a foreman for a tree planting company in British Columbia during the summer and took the winters off to ice climb.

The Hawkesbury, Ontario, native started climbing while earning a physical education degree at the University of Ottawa in the 1970s. The Banff Centre for Mountain Culture said he later led Outward Bound classes and taught at the Yamnuska Mountain School in Canmore, Alberta.

Lacelle is survived by his wife Marge Lachecki.