Originally Posted by offpiste
...When we confronted them about it, we saw that they had no gear and didn't even know where they were. This is disturbing to me. Are people just that oblivious to the danger to themselves and everyone within a quarter mile of them?
The short answer is yes - many people *are* that oblivious.
This is a natural outcome of JH's open backcountry gate policy and the fact that it's relatively easy to go out and come back. I'm sure you've learned that as you get into Pinedale and No-Name and Jensen canyons (and Granite, to a lesser extent) you'll run into far less of the people who don't have the gear or the knowledge.
You probably already know that this was one of the huge arguments when the Ski Corp, the Patrol, and Teton Co. Search & Rescue were all debating the idea of opening the gates.
There's really almost nothing you can do about clueless idiots, other than to try to protect yourself and your party from them. Everyone in the industry tries to encourage people to get the gear and the knowledge. You can't make the horse drink, however. You can try to get confrontational with morons in the backcountry but my own experience is that it's not at all effective.
JH really is a bit unusual in this regard. There is so much great terrain that's easily accessible right outside the gates, it's an enormous temptation. There's also so much of that terrain that is avalanche-prone that the situations you describe are all too common.
Short of going back to some sort of backcountry checkout system (which, believe me, you don't want to see the SKi Corp return to), all you can do is try to educate and stay out of harm's way. It's a great topic, though, and perhaps a few backcountry neophytes who are reading this will take the message to heart.
We live in the same place, Offpiste. We need to do a rendezvous.