After a few days of steady snow, we are enjoying 50-60cm of fresh snow. I had an epic day of skiing on Sunday after the roads were cleared better. On Saturday, Suz and I snowshoed up the side of Grotto Mountain behind the house. Upon returning we were shocked to hear of several avalanche deaths that day. Shocked because the avalanche danger was so high and these two skiers were not wearing beacons. At the very same time that these two were swept away just south of the above photo, Suz and I dug a snow pit to look at the snow profile. All that storm snow was sitting on a very weak layer.
Here is a vertical profile of the snowpack. You can plainly see the cohesive storm snow sitting on two clearly defined layers The Nov 29th ice layer and at the bottom is an extremely weak base layer of what are called facets. They are essentially ball bearings made of snow/ice crystals.
Here is a close up of the facet layer:
You can clearly see that there is nothing holding the snow pack to the ground. I can only speculate why they were putting themselves in harm’s way and without beacons.