Child Climbs Tallest Mountain in Africa, Then Reveals Heartbreaking Reason for Trip


“Our philosophy in life is to be somebody and to do things with our lives,” Hollie Kenney of Austin, Texas, told ABC News. I’d say that she and her 7 year old daughter have more than accomplished that philosophy when they summited Mt. Kilimanjaro on March 16, 2018.

Hollie’s daughter, Montannah, now holds the record of the youngest female to summit according to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Hollie was talking to some of her friends about the climb and asked them if they would ever be interested. Little Montannah overheard their conversation and promptly told her mother that she wanted to go as well.

“I didn’t want to discount what she said, but I knew she didn’t know the magnitude so we started researching it and looking at videos,” Hollie told ABC News. She didn’t sugar-coat how difficult the hike would be, telling her that people get sick from the altitude, but Montannah persisted.

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After she heard that the summit would above the clouds, the young girl immediately associated it with heaven.

She asked her mom if she would be able to see her dad who had passed away almost five years prior. “The higher I go, the closer I am to him in heaven,” Montannah told a local newspaper.

When the pair began training, Hollie, a former professional triathlete, thought the minimum age requirement for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was 10 years old. She thought she had a few years to train with her daughter.

Then she began reading reports of children younger than 10 climbing the 19,341-foot mountain. Then she read that the youngest girl to summit, Roxy Getter from Florida, was 8. She knew if her daughter wanted the chance to set her first record, they would need to speed up their training.

They scheduled the hike during Montannah’s spring break, which was only a month and a half away.

They spent their weekends hiking anywhere between 4 and 8 hours at a time and smaller hikes during the week. Hollie wanted her daughter to be well prepared, but didn’t want training to take over her life.

When asked about her training, Montannah said, ““Sometimes my friends come with us and sometimes my mom makes me do math problems when we see signs of how far we have gone, and how far we have to go.”

Hollie described their six-day hike as extremely cold and wet. “Everything was wet by summit day. We were putting on wet clothes, wet boots, my hair was frozen,” she said. Hollie also remembers Montannah specifically looking for her dad while they were at the summit.

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Despite the less than ideal environment, Montannah remained positive. Hollie remembers her daughter declaring it the “best day ever” at least twice during their hike.

After finishing this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime hike, the pair spent two weeks in Africa going on a safari and enjoying the beach. “I’m her only parent and I’m an older parent and I want to build these awesome memories with my child,” Hollie said.

Many great things are yet to come for Miss Montannah. There’s no denying that.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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