Failure: Is It Really Failure?

Can you fail at something you can’t control?

Is it failure if you learn from it?

If you stay safe as a result of not pursuing something, is it failure?

These are questions that I asked myself during a June trip to Alta Badia in the Italian Dolomites. During the month of June, it is often still spring above 2000m. There are still substantial amounts of snow, especially in the north faces.

North Face

Long story short, I wanted to attempt Piz Boe, which stands at 3152m in the Sella Group of the Dolomites.

At around 2600m I was faced with very steep unstable snow fields >3m deep on the north east face with melt water running under the snow fields. In addition, there was a storm approaching.

I didn’t make it to the summit. But was that failure?

Piz Boe

Collins Dictionary defines failure as

“a lack of success in doing or achieving something, especially in relation to a particular activity.”

When you break down this definition, you can look at it two ways:

  1. I was not successful in reaching the summit of Piz Boe
  2. I was successful in remaining safe and I achieved survival. This may seem extreme, but in reality, people do die and surviving is an achievement.

So is it really failure if you do not reach your end goal, but you listen to your gut feeling and the conditions around you and consequently succeed in stay safe?

If anything, this is success. Living each day is a success.

The day after this summit attempt, I decided to give it another go via the south face. Was this unwillingness to give up perseverance or stubbornness? I don’t know.

Piz Boe
Piz Boe

Long story short, I summited Piz Boe via the south face with a lot less snow and more stable conditions.

If anything, it isn’t failure: we learn from each attempt at something we do and this facilitates both personal and professional growth.

I learnt from my first attempt and applied these lessons learnt to my second attempt.

Although I never summited on the first attempt, the scenery was amazing, plus I saw 2 mountain goats hurling themselves down a steep slope and a marmot running to its hide.

It’s about the journey & not the destination๐Ÿ’ชโค

10 thoughts on “Failure: Is It Really Failure?

  1. I love this post and the silver lining you put to it. I had a similar thing last year, I was supposed to do a half marathon in September but fell down the stairs in April/ May and injured my hip and couldn’t run for about 8 weeks. I was still trying to train for my race but in the last week-10 days I realised I probably wasn’t fit enough shape yet and decided to skip to prevent further injury. Felt like a failure to start with but in the end trying to prep for the race probably helped me get back out there after my injury x



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