Take everything you thought you knew about bravery and toss it out the window because a 7-year-old girl from Austin, Texas just surpassed us all in the courage department. Montannah Kenney recently set a world record by climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, becoming the youngest female ever to do so. Kilimanjaro is Africa's tallest mountain and the highest free standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet.
The idea came after Montannah heard her mom, Hollie, talking about climbing the mountain with friends. The adventurous 7-year-old told Hollie that she wanted to climb the mountain, too. "I was very real with her, explaining that people can get very sick, that we'd have to train very hard and it wouldn't be an easy task," Hollie 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, a former professional triathlete, served as Montannah's coach and climbing partner during the trek. Training for the climb up the mountain consisted of weekend hikes that lasted four to eight hours and shorter hikes during the week. Hollie shared with ABC News that she didn't want to rob Montannah of her childhood during training, so the two would pass the time by practicing math and spelling and listening to music.
Ordinarily, the minimum age requirement to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is 10. But with the help of a triathlete friend, Hollie was able to get a permit from park officials that allowed Montannah to climb the mountain. This isn't the first time special permission has been granted to an underage climber. Before Montannah set her record, 8-year-old Roxy Getter held the title of youngest female to reach the top of the mountain.
Montannah and her mom were accompanied by guide Dismass Mariki, along with about 20 other support staff members. It took six days to complete the climb, which Hollie says didn't faze Montannah. She told ABC News, "She never, ever questioned what she was doing," noting that at least twice during the climb, Montannah said it was the "best day ever."
Part of what kept Montannah going was that she believed when she reached the top of the mountain, she could see her late father up in heaven. He passed away a week after her third birthday. Her mom said in an interview with ABC News, "When we talked about the mountain being above the clouds, she immediately associated that with heaven and it resonated with her." According to Chron, Hollie said, "She knows that her daddy lives in heaven and that she is a lucky girl and she has an angel looking over her. She knew that she would be closer to him by climbing the mountain."
As if Montannah reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro wasn't impressive enough, she did it in spite of miserable weather conditions. Her mom said, "It was beautiful the first day and then it rained, snowed and hailed the rest of the time. Everything we were carrying was soaking wet by day four. We weren't totally prepared for that."
Prepared or not, Montannah and Hollie did what many strive to do but aren't able to accomplish. They completed the mountain top hike on March 16, 2018, then spent two additional weeks in Africa going on safaris and visiting the beach. Hollie told ABC News, "Our philosophy in life is to be somebody and to do things with our lives." The mom and daughter undoubtedly did just that. We're sure Montannah's dad is looking down at both of them with just as much —if not more — pride as we are. You go, girls!