7-year-old Texan climbs Mount Kilimanjaro

Woman holding a young girl at the top of a mountain (Courtesy Hollie Kenney)
Montannah Kenney and her mother, Hollie, reach the summit. (Courtesy of Hollie Kenney)

Montannah Kenney had an exciting school break this year — the 7-year-old became the youngest girl to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Climbing Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa at 5,895 meters, was Montannah’s project during a school break in March. The adventure presented her with an opportunity to discover her potential strengths and learn about hiking and other cultures.

The Texas native accompanied her mother, Hollie Kenney.

“My sister asked me if I was interested in climbing Kilimanjaro with her,” Hollie Kenney recalled. “We started the planning phase, but she had backed out of it. She decided she didn’t want to do it anymore. Then, I had been asking a couple of friends if they were interested in going. Montannah chimed in and said, ‘I would go with you, Mommy.'”

Montannah also wanted to set a new world record and, more importantly to her, pay tribute to her father, who died when she was 3 years old.

“I knew that heaven was not that farther up from Mount Kilimanjaro. So, I wanted to do it,” she said.

It took them six days to reach the peak.

Smiling young girl standing on snow-covered mountain with mountain top behind her (Courtesy Hollie Kenney)
Montannah Kenney trained with her mom on hilly terrain in Texas to prepare for Mount Kilimanjaro. (Courtesy Hollie Kenney)

Arriving at the top

Kenney was deeply touched to watch what Montannah did when she reached the peak.

“To see Montannah blow kisses to her Daddy, to know that she was as close as she possibly could be to him in heaven, that was very meaningful for a mom to see,” Kenney said.

At that point, Montannah was extremely tired but thrilled about her achievement.

“It was very long for me,” she said. “I was really excited, but I wasn’t really thinking about when we had to go all the way down. I was glad I did it, but I didn’t want to go down.”

Beyond the summit

In addition to the accomplishment of reaching the top of Kilimanjaro and setting a world record, the trip was an introduction to new cultures.

“Not only did we try different foods when we were on the mountain, but we went on two safaris afterward,” Kenney said. “We went to Zanzibar. We stopped in one of the towns to see how people in Tanzania live. We went to their local market, met several business owners. We met several families, and that was really exciting. Kids that lived in the town absolutely loved meeting my daughter. That was a lot of fun.”

This article was adapted from a longer piece published by Voice of America.