Sounds like a bad shift to me...I think having the gear is a good thing, but should be looked at like car or health insurance in that you hope you never have to use it...lots of dead guys have been wearing transceivers and a few recently that had airbags (but may not have deployed them)
The JH ski patrol and guides are required to wear ABS packs this winter, essentially whenever they are on duty. So, there are a lot of ABS packs on the tram on any given day. To answer the question more directly, though, I'm also seeing lots and lots of "civilians" wearing ABS packs this winter. I'm also seeing WAY more Avalungs than ever before, including quite a few guys who are wearing both Avalungs and ABS packs.
I think it brings up an interesting question about whether there has been a complete turnabout in how "snow safety" is being approached these days. When I was going through my early avalanche and snow safety training (admittedly a long time ago now) practically all of the emphasis was on stability analysis and route selection, with the goal being to never get in an avalanche in the first place. Snow technology has progressed so much from the basics of better shovels and probes through increasingly more sophisticated and easier-to-use transceivers to the Avalung and now the ABS bags. I think the emphasis has definitely shifted from avalanche AVOIDANCE to avalanche SURVIVAL. I'm now seeing people ski lines and conditions that make me just shake my head and watch in awe.
That shift is a hard one for me to figure out since I am terrified of being being buried under tons of snow, but I think the mindset is definitely out there to push the envelope further than ever before and trust that the gadgets are going to save you if you get caught.
I agree. I wonder what the JH guides who have been caught and injured in a avi think about that change in philosophy. I met and skied with AJ the year after he broke his legs in a slide.