Police launch appeal after grim series of avalanche fatalities: The man, a Nicois, was part of a group of three boarders who crossed under netting at the top of the pistes to ski a ridge into a bowl. [...] was buried under 300cm of snow. [...] was not wearing an avalanche beacon. (Via PisteHors.com.)
The beacon would have likely been a sad redundancy in this case, just helping the rescuers to recover the body more easily. The odds of being dug alive from under three meters of avalanche debris are negligible.
Although the statistics are not fully in, it seems that a reduction in fatalities among practiced backcountry riders is being offset by an increase in reckless behavior by "side country" riders who get into uncontrolled terrain from ski lifts. Moving further into speculation, easier to use equipment and very aggressive publicity for off-piste riding in movies, internet videos, and magazines may also be factors.
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