My intent was not to be crass - The whole thing bums me out. Perhaps I should have just stuck with "tragic" instead of "poignantly ironic".
The point I was driving at is basically this: The Steven's Pass marketing director was by all accounts a highly experienced and competent back-country skier. He led a group of 16 people who largely didn't know each other (and in some cases didn't know him) into the "side country" without clear plans, processes, or even agreement as to where they were going. Within that group were a whole bunch of ski industry luminaries of the sort that an area like SP might want to impress. It's impossible to know what was going through his head, but it appears as though he may have been subject to conflicting incentives (between the demands of his job and his knowledge of backcountry safety, for example).
That's really what I meant to get at: I recognize that language is dynamic and evolving, but at the same time the language we use tends to "frame" how we think about and react to our environment. Just ask any political operative ("death taxes" anyone?). I find the whole notion of "side-country" to be particularly pernicious in that regard, because it serves to introduce a cognitive disconnect from our understanding of the realities of the back country.