This assembly looks at the sport of mountain climbing and the huge challenge that awaits the boy who wants to be the youngest person to conquer Everest


Today we’re going to be talking about dreams – not the kind of dreams you have when you’re asleep and you dream that your teddy bear has turned into a gorilla wearing your aunt’s clothes (or whatever strange things you dream about!), but the kind of dreams where you think about what you’d like to be when you grow up.

Perhaps you dream about growing up to be the sort of person who helps other people, like a nurse or a doctor, a fire officer or a teacher, a police officer or a lifeguard. Perhaps you dream about growing up to entertain other people and being an actor, or a singer or an athlete or a football player. Perhaps you dream about growing up to be someone who changes how we see the world, like a scientist, an astronaut, an explorer or an inventor.

Those are all things you might dream about doing when you grow up. But here’s another question: what do you think you’ll be doing when you’re 13 years old? For some of you that’s not very far away. What do you dream you’ll be doing when you’re 13? [Take suggestions]

There are lots of interesting answers there and it sounds like you’ve got some exciting times ahead. Today’s assembly is about a boy of 13 who has been making his dreams come true since he was 10 years old, but now he’s tackling a very difficult – and very dangerous – challenge.

Jordan Romero’s story
Today’s story is about a boy called Jordan Romero [show picture]. Jordan is 13 years old and he’s from California in America.

His great love is climbing mountains [show pictures of him climbing]. He was inspired to start climbing by a painting at his school. It showed the seven highest mountains on each continent. Who can tell me the name of one of the seven continents? [Take suggestions]

That’s right: Europe, of which Britain is a part; Asia; North America; South America; Australasia, of which Australia is a part; the Antarctic, where the North Pole can be found; and Antarctica, where the South Pole can be found; and Africa.

The painting Jordan saw showed the Seven Summits challenge – the challenge to climb the highest mountain on each continent – and he decided that’s what he wanted to do.

Now, lots of people enjoy going out for a walk. Many people own dogs and take them out for a walk after work or school. Lots of people enjoy hill walking in the Peak District or the Lake District or anywhere where there are hills to climb with lovely views.

Some people enjoy climbing more challenging mountains in Wales or Scotland and for that sort of climbing you need to be fit and strong. Although that by itself isn’t enough: you also need to be an experienced climber and have the right equipment. This includes a helmet, good climbing boots and ropes to make sure that you’re safe – because, on the highest mountains, you’re a long way up, and it’s a long way to fall down!

Jordan’s parents enjoyed climbing, too, so they helped him as much as they could. Even so, it must have been a bit of a shock when he said he wanted to climb the Seven Summits! But they decided they would do everything they could to help Jordan achieve his dream.

He started by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, when he was just 10 years old. Mount Kilimanjaro is in a country called Tanzania. It’s quite a hot country but even in a hot country, the top of a mountain can be very cold with snow on the top. It’s very important to have the right equipment, the right clothes and to have trained very hard.

Over the next three years, Jordan and his parents climbed five of the other Seven Summits’ mountains; now only one mountain is left. It’s called Mount Everest and it’s the highest mountain in the world.

Let’s think about that for a minute: the highest mountain in the world. Mount Everest is 8,848 metres high. That’s five and a half miles high: five and a half miles, straight up!

That’s an awfully long way up. Here’s a photograph of the London Eye [show picture]. It’s 135 metres high. You can see some buildings in the background that show you how high up it is. But you’d have to have 65 London Eyes, one on top of each other, to reach the same height as Mount Everest.

And here’s something else to think about: at the top of a mountain that high, it’s very difficult to breathe. This is because there isn’t as much oxygen in the air when you are so high up. In fact you have only about a third of the amount of oxygen in the air as someone living by the sea. High up, your heart and lungs have to work much harder to pump blood around your body. If you haven’t trained properly, you can feel very ill indeed.

People who want to climb Mount Everest have to spend at least a month practising their climbing so they can get used to the thinner air.

And there’s another problem. It’s very, very cold on top of Mount Everest. It can be -26˚C or much, much colder. And it’s very windy, too, which makes you feel even colder – and that can be dangerous, too.

Some people have even died when they have tried to climb Mount Everest. Preparation and training are very important.

So how does Jordan feel about his attempt to climb this dangerous mountain, the highest mountain in the world?

’This may be the first of many attempts. It could take a couple of years [before I succeed], but I am determined to do it. If I don’t reach the summit this time, I will try next time. I do feel ready. I just wanted to do something big, and this was something I wanted to do for myself. It was all about the experience and I just happen to be 13 at this time.’

If Jordan succeeds, he will be the youngest person to have climbed Everest – ever. The youngest person so far is Temba Tsheri who lives in Nepal. Nepal is the country where you’ll find Mount Everest so you could say it was in Temba’s backyard. He’ll be watching carefully to see if the young American will beat his amazing record.

So good luck to Jordan. He’ll be spending the next month at base camp on Mount Everest getting used to the thinner air. He’ll be training hard and hoping to climb Everest in May.

He says the next few weeks will give him plenty of time to catch up on his maths homework and write some book reports, too! He’ll be writing a blog, as well, so you can follow his progress as he tries to live his dream.

PrayerDear Father,

Please look after Jordan and his family and the people who are helping them as they attempt to climb Mount Everest. Help us to always try our hardest and never to give up our dreams. Amen.

Jordan’s parents will help him in his attempt to climb Mount Everest but there is also a whole team of people who are helping him achieve his dream.

More information
Facts about Mount Everest

The Seven Summits:

  • Carstensz Pyramid, New Guinea, Australasia, 4,884 M
  • Vinson, Antarctica, 4,897 M
  • Elbrus, Russia, Europe, 5,642 M
  • Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa, 5,895 M
  • Denali (Mt McKinley), Alaska, North America, 6,194 M
  • Aconcagua, Argentina, South America, 6,959 M
  • Everest, Nepal/Tibet, Asia, 8,848 M

This e-bulletin issue was first published in April 2010

About the author: Jane A. C. West