I agree with you - in fact that was also part of my point. I personally think it is stupid to bring a group of 12 people off piste if only the instructor knows how to do a search and rescue and has had avalanche awareness training - what if he was the only one buried - a group of 12 can become pretty stretched out, and to me this is just a ratio asking for trouble. But even in a group of 3 going off piste, I would say at least 2 of them should have had avalanche awareness training and had damn well better be out there while training the 3rd person up on it.
I also still think that if all 12 people knew how to search, that it would simply not have taken 15 minutes to get this guy out. Surely someone saw where he last was when the avalanche hit out of a group of 12. Perhaps it took time for things like getting everyone to take their beacons out of SEND mode before the search could properly start - looking at the photos the debris field is not that large, and he appeared to be found at the end of the avalanche if the clump of people in the photo does represent where his body was found. It did not mention others being caught, so is this a case where the last person in the group was hit, and if so, then it is reasonable to think the instructor (the one with the most training) would have been the furthest away.
I too am tired of people defending this practice just because it is the way it has ‘always been done’. Clearly it is done this way because it is profitable for the guides and instructors - but it is simply not safe for the participants. Training should be required for anyone going off piste, even with a ‘pro’, and if that eats into someone’s profit margins, so be it. But these same guides and instructors can certainly market and run the training courses too. If someone wants to hire a guide to go off piste, and part of being able to do that is a requirement to have proof of taking at least a 1 day course to learn about how to use the gear and to become more aware of what sets off avalanches and how to ski more safely to avoid them, then it is better for everyone else who skis off piste that they become educated.
Italy just introduced fines for people who ski off piste without transceivers - to me that is not quite ‘getting it’. There is still no requirement that anyone knows how to use them, so are these now just ‘body recovery devices’ ? There are still far too many people I meet daily in Chamonix whether it be over drinks after skiing or by running into them in resort who think that if you have a transceiver the main purpose is so that the pisteurs can find you and dig you out, in the mistaken hope that this will lead to a live rescue rather than being put into a body bag. Your best chance at survival in any avalanche situation is going to come from the immedate help of the people you are skiing with, because suffocation is not a slow process. Don’t ski with untrained people if you go off piste, and practice your technique regularly. And in my opinion, lawmakers should not focus on banning off piste skiing but on making it safer by requiring this education, and requiring guides and instructors to have proof from their clients that they have had prior training in tranceiver searches before taking people off piste. The only justification for not doing this type of pre-check or training of clients right now is a monetary one. Is that really a good enough reason for people to be put at a higher risk of dying ?