How to use this site    About Us    Submissions    Feedback    Donate    Links - School Assemblies for every season for everyone

Decorative image - Secondary

Email Twitter Facebook


Climb the Mountain

Mountains in our lives

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To reflect on mountains as sacred places.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Climb the Mountain) and the means to display them.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Puja ceremony: April 12, 2009’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.54 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Have Slide 1 showing as the students enter.

  2. Show Slide 2.

    I wonder if anyone can identify the place in this picture. I’ll give you a clue: it’s a mountain that’s located on the border between Nepal and Tibet.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Yes, that’s right: it’s Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

  3. Let’s try to get a sense of how high Mount Everest is. I’m looking for a volunteer who’s 5’ 5” tall - that’s 165 cm. Who here is that height?

    Listen to a range of responses and select a student or staff member of the correct height who is happy to come to the front.

  4. So, [insert name] is 165 cm tall. I wonder how many times taller you estimate Mount Everest to be.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  5. Well, I can reveal the answer: [insert name] is 165 cm tall; Mount Everest is an incredible 8,849 metres above sea level. That makes Everest 884,900 cm high, 5,363 times taller than our volunteer here.

    If we were to create a human version of Mount Everest, we’d need another 5,362 people who were the same height as [insert name], all standing on top of each other’s head. I’m sure that [insert name] will be relieved to hear that we won’t be performing that experiment today!

    Thank the volunteer and ask them to sit down.

    I wonder if you can imagine standing at the highest place in the world. How might you feel?

  6. Throughout history, humans have been fascinated by mountains, and have often regarded them as holy places. Most religious traditions recognize a particular mountain or mountains as sacred within their belief system.

  7. For example, Mount Everest is sacred to the Sherpa people. It is called ‘goddess of the sky’, or Sagarmatha, by the Nepalese, and ‘goddess, mother of the earth’, or Chomolungma, by the Tibetans.

    Before climbing Everest, the Sherpas perform a Buddhist ritual to show their respect for the mountain and to ask the mountain goddess to bless the climb and provide safe passage.

    Let’s watch a short video of this ritual.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Puja ceremony: April 12, 2009’ (1.54 minutes long).

  8. It’s not just Everest that’s regarded as a sacred mountain. Across the globe, many mountains are revered as places of power and connection to the divine.

  9. Show Slide 3.

    In the Bible, God descends on Mount Sinai wreathed in fire and smoke. The Book of Exodus tells us that it was on Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God.

    Mount Sinai is regarded as a holy place by Jews, Christians and Muslims, who all recognize Moses, or Musa, as a prophet.

  10. Show Slide 4.

    A sacred mountain that’s a bit closer to home is Croagh Patrick. At a more modest 764 metres, Croagh Patrick is a mountain in County Mayo, Ireland. It’s thought to have been used by prehistoric people as part of their ritual practices.

    In time, the mountain became associated with Saint Patrick, who is said to have spent 40 days fasting on its summit. There has been a church at the summit since the fifth century. Every July, thousands of pilgrims climb the mountain as a form of pilgrimage - many in their bare feet.

  11. Around the world, and across different religious traditions, sacred mountains often share many features in terms of how people relate to them.

    - The height of the mountain, reaching up to the sky, often inspires feelings of wonder and awe.
    - The mountain can be seen as a place where heaven and earth meet - or a place where people feel closer to God.
    - Mountains are often recognized as places of revelation, transformation, inspiration and renewal. Modern-day mountain climbers will often comment that they feel that something inside them has changed, or they have gained some wisdom or insight as a result of climbing the mountain. The pilgrims who climb Croagh Patrick often report feeling closer to God, and speak of a sense of peace as they descend the mountain.

Time for reflection

Let’s pause to think of mountains in our own lives: not just physical ones that we know of, but also the metaphorical mountains that we all face.

Perhaps we’ve heard people say this kind of thing.

Show Slide 5 and click through to reveal each of the four speech bubbles.

- Revising for my exams feels like I’m traipsing up a mountain!
- I’d move mountains for you.
- You’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
- I feel like I’m on top of the world!

A mountain can be a helpful metaphor to express the challenges and wonder of life for us as humans.

Let’s think about the mountains that we face in our own lives: the challenges and difficult experiences that can feel like an uphill slog. Let’s take a moment to consider what that might look like for us, what our own personal mountain is. Perhaps our mountain is caring for a family member who is ill. It may be a mountain of struggling to complete homework. Perhaps our mountain is friendship issues and feeling alone and isolated. Life is full of mountains, and that can be difficult.

Let’s take a moment’s silence now to consider our personal mountains.

Pause to allow time for thought.

As we’ve seen, mountains can also be places of connection. They can be places where we connect with a sense of awe and wonder, or with spiritual beliefs, or with a feeling of inner peace.

As we consider our own metaphorical mountains in life, I wonder if we can recognize any way in which struggling with our challenges helps us to connect. Are we aware of connecting with other people as a result of our difficulties? Perhaps we see how prayer, or connection with religious beliefs and practices, can help. Perhaps we feel more connected with ourselves and what matters to us when we face the mountains in our own lives. Perhaps, as we face difficulties in life, we can connect with our own need to stop and rest sometimes - and to see how far we’ve come.

Again, let’s take a moment’s silence for ourselves, to consider our personal mountains.

Pause to allow time for thought.

We’ve seen how mountaintop experiences can be a cause for celebration. There’s something exhilarating about reaching the summit of a climb. In our lives, achieving what we set out to do and feeling a sense of accomplishment can feel awesome!

Let’s take some time now to consider what getting to the top of our metaphorical mountains might look like for us.

- Who do we imagine we’d want to share that celebration with?
- How do we imagine we’d be changed as a result of this experience?

For one last time, let’s take a moment’s silence now to consider our personal mountains.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Let’s bring our reflections before God in prayer.

We pause for a moment of silence to offer to God any thoughts or feelings that we have about our own mountains in life.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Dear God,
We recognize the beauty and wonder of the mountains in our world - locally and across the globe.
We thank you, Lord, for the wonder of creation.
We recognize too the metaphorical mountains that we face in our lives.
Help us to feel equipped for our journey of life.
Help us to find places of rest and restoration when the challenges that we face loom large.
Please give us people along the way to support us.
Please help us to be a support to others.
May we experience a sense of accomplishment and enough mountaintop experiences to keep us going through the difficult times.


‘The climb’ by Miley Cyrus, available at: (3.48 minutes long)

Publication date: October 2023   (Vol.25 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
Print this page