Damn it, that sucks even worse. So reminiscent of the last death on Berthoud as that victim's avy gear was in the passenger seat of his car in the parking lot.
I hate to play Monday morning QB on this, but Jeff should've known better than to have been out on the pass in those conditions, with the avy danger where it was with a partner with no gear. Even in areas you know very well, it's easy to get a bit off track in low visibility. A bit off track in avalanche terrain can be the difference between living and dying.
You're probably right that visibility played a role here. It sounds like Jeff knew what he was doing and was trying to play it safe, but the poor visibility may have led to him getting a bit off course and into an area he didn't intend to be in.