Not a lot of recent posts here so I figured I'd post one of my stupid decisions for everyone to learn from.
I had just graduated from the Army's high altitude mountain course and thought I was pretty awesome. My commander wanted to go out and learn something from his newly minted mountain guru so we decided to go out for a quick training flight. I was flying an old but reliable UH-1 at the time. We knocked out a quick preflight and all the other Army bs and headed out to the training area. It was a windy day with gusts around 25 kts at the airfield, warm, and we were loaded up pretty good with all the medevac stuff and hoist etc. I had a nice pinnacle in mind at about 4500 msl that I thought would really showcase my awesome technique and show my commander what a stellar pilot I was.
As we got up to the training area we found the pinnacle quickly; it was a decent little hill that jutted out from a ridgeline and was slightly higher. Winds were out of the west and after doing our wind drift circle we realized winds were about 45 kts out of the west at the pinnacle. In my infinite wisdom I figured no biggie, we'll just ride that monster demarcation line down, what could be easier? So I go through my really cool sounding landing brief doing my expert wind and terrain analysis, explaining to my commander about the downdrafts and other areas to avoid, and of course, the escape route.
In a Huey at high altitude, a down and right escape route works well if rotor droop is encountered and I had that stuck in my head from the course. Obviously, the intent is not to disregard a 45 kt wind and stick with the down and right escape but that's exactly what I did. We made our approach into the wind which put the pinnacle dead ahead and the ridgeline at an angle to the right which meant the my escape plan required a right turn off of the pinnacle to the downsloping terrain over the lee side of the ridge. A great plan with no wind.
Initially, we rode the demarcation line down, practically autorotating down the updraft to the site. My LZ was just about under my feet and we were about 200 agl. I got a little uncomfortable because even though I thought I was the man, I had almost no mountain experience and this kind of approach felt odd. So I did something really dumb - I slowed down a bit so that I could see the LZ better rather than look over my toes. Like an elevator with the cable suddenly cut we dropped out of the sky and then I made my second mistake.
I executed my briefed and poorly planned escape route designed for a situation I had not encountered. I turned right, down the lee side of the ridge. Due to the odd angle of the adjacent ridge and the kicking winds, I actually put myself into a bit of a tailwind and turbulence as I turned further aggravating my descent. The ridgeline got closer and closer as I pushed the nose down to try to regain airspeed. I pulled as much collective as I dared, willing myself not to yank it up to my armpit and seal my fate. We skimmed the back side of that ridgeline a couple feet off the ground fighting the wind and finally gained enough airspeed to level out and climb back up. My hands were actually shaking as we headed back home.
A 10 hr course does not produce an expert. In my case, it produced a liability.