Ascending to the top of one of the highest peaks on the planet is no small feat. Even for the avid climber, Mt. Kilimanjaro is a formidable trek and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Montannah Kenney, 7, wasn’t interested in hearing how difficult it would be; she just wanted to climb. Alongside her mother, Hollie Kenney, the Austin, Texas, second grader accomplished something nobody else ever has.
At only 7 years old, Montannah Kenney became the youngest girl to ever ascend to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.
At its peak, Kilimanjaro is an imposing 19,341 feet high, and boasts three different volcanic cones. Climbing to the top means battling severe weather conditions, nausea, and shortness of breath.
When Montannah overheard her mother talking to some of her friends about climbing the mountain, she said she wanted to make the climb too.
“She said to me, ‘Mommy I want to do it too,’ Hollie, a former professional triathlete, told ABC News. “I didn’t discount what she said but I knew she didn’t know the magnitude so we started researching it and looking at videos.”
Hollie explained to her daughter that the trip wouldn’t be easy. Even after being told of the risks, and the arduous training that would be required, Montannah wasn’t deterred.
The 7-year-old girl felt called to make the climb for one special reason.
“When we talked about the mountain being above the clouds, she immediately associated that with heaven and it resonated with her,” Hollie said.
Montannah’s father passed away in 2013, just a week after her third birthday. But that doesn’t mean she misses him any less, and the idea of being closer to him in heaven motivated her.
“She loved that idea of being closer to her dad and asked me if she was going to be able to see him,” Hollie said.
The mother–daughter duo started to train rigorously. The goal was to scale the mountain during Montannah’s spring break from school.
Every weekend for the next six weeks, they went on four-to-eight-hour hikes.
After seeing the way her daughter had trained, Hollie was confident her daughter was ready. Because she was under the minimum age of 10, Montannah needed a special waiver to allow her to make the climb.
“Every day I asked Montannah if this was harder or easier than she thought it would be, and every day she answered, ‘Easier,'” Hollie said.
Hollie and Montannah completed the hike in six days, from March 10–16.
On top of having the coolest “what did you do over spring break?” story at her school, Montannah is officially in the record books.
By the time they reached the summit, all of their clothes and personal belongs were wet from the constant downpour of rain and snow. But that didn’t stop Montannah from declaring it the “best day ever.”
Around 8 a.m. on March 16, they reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“Regardless, [the hike] put my daughter in the clouds closer to where her dad is and that just made her happy,” Hollie told Fox News. “To be able to provide the ability for Montannah to follow a dream that she wants to do, there’s no price tag.”