I was looking for a phrase to put at the end of a worksheet just as a nice to have for the students when they were doing work and I came across the phrase:

"It is warmer on the peaks than those in the valleys will ever know".

It was unreferenced and the site did not explain its meaning either, can anyone tell me who said this, what it means and if possible, even how to use it?

  • "It was unreferenced and the site did not explain..." . Which site? I got 0 results running an Ngram search. Where did you see it?
    – BiscuitBoy
    Feb 19, 2016 at 9:27
  • How to use it will be purely a matter of opinion.
    – Chenmunka
    Feb 19, 2016 at 10:14
  • 2
    Valleys are where the easy living is. Mountains were traditionally regarded as the domain of fierce beasts, giants, and worse (Tolkien draws on this marvellously in both 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'). But people like John Muir and Ansel Adams, and artists and adventurers before them, debunked this myth, showing how majestic mountain regions were. The metaphorical use is saying that one has to step out of one's comfort zone to find the sublime – which many refuse to do. Feb 19, 2016 at 10:36
  • 1
    Taken literally it makes little sense, except in certain geographies. In general the peaks will be windswept and, being higher, the temperature will be cooler, making them less pleasant. (Though one "certain geography" where the peaks are more pleasant is the fjord country of Norway, where many valleys are so deep that the sun never reaches them.) It's a poor metaphor without some context.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 19, 2016 at 13:38

3 Answers 3


meaning: when you've never experienced something, you don't understand how good it is. You don't know how warm / pleasant the sun is at the top of the peak because you live in the valley where the sun is blocked by the walls.

Never heard this metaphor before. You could use it when someone doesn't want to do something that they have never tried, that you know is good. They are happy to live in the valley, but they never go to the peak and appreciate the warmth.

  • 2
    BiscuitBoy couldn't find a reference on Google Ngrams, which argues strongly against it being an idiom. A nice-sounding metaphor, yes. Feb 19, 2016 at 10:24

Peaks are at a very high altitude and known to be colder and mostly uninhabited. Valleys are associated generally with prosperity, as streams will follow the course of the land and tend to flow into or near a valley.

Thus the saying is indicating that people who refuse to leave the comfort of the valley will never discover the aspects of the peak that can be enjoyed. They will live on under their prejudice.


It is a mixed meaning metaphor - one meaning being it is better at the top of Maslow’s pinnacle than at the bottom, the other being it is better to be grandiose.whereas the truth lies somewhere in the middle…….

  • As it’s currently written, your answer is unclear. Please edit to add additional details that will help others understand how this addresses the question asked. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Nov 17, 2021 at 9:06
  • At what point did Maslow enter into this?
    – Joachim
    Nov 17, 2021 at 12:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.