It was a pristine, blue-sky day in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah and I had just climbed up Flagstaff peak, which sits at just over 10,000 feet.
As I prepared to ski down, I scouted out the lines on the back of the north-facing slope. This was rugged backcountry, defined by cliffs, chutes, and deep powder. As I took my first turns, I quickly realized I had chosen the wrong path down, and there was a 200-foot cliff approaching. I took my skis off and put my climbing gear back on but found that the slope was too steep and too narrow to traverse back up. I was a sitting duck at this point, unable to walk back to the top or arrive safely at the bottom.
I attempted to hike up the steep chute only in my ski boots, making progress with a few exhausting steps. But the snow was waist-deep, and I was breathing uncontrollably. I took another step and instantly sunk into a hole up to my chest. I was stuck. After I caught my breath, I remember thinking, "I might die here, and no one would ever find me."