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8 Mountains, 8 Years, $10K: Little Climber, Big Heart

Eight-year-old Karina Eustace-Wallis's ambitious journey to summit eight mountains and raise $8,000 by her 8th birthday

There are not many eight-year-olds with the dedication to summit mountains, but Karina Eustace-Wallis isn’t your regular eight-year-old.

8-year old girl leaping for joy on the summit of Wind Mountqin in Kananaskis
Karina on Summit #3 – Windtower. adventures-4wild | Instagram

Her whole family are hiking enthusiasts, and she’s never shied away from a good trek. After watching her mother complete numerous athletic challenges, Karina had an idea to push herself and raise some money for wilderness.

“My mom, so she did this thing … where she climbed 40 pitches of rock and [biked] 40 kilometres in 40 hours,” Karina said in a conversation on The Calgary Eyeopener.

 “That inspired me to do my 8-8-8 thing.”

The 8-8-8 thing she’s referring to was for her to raise $8000 by climbing eight mountains by her 8th birthday.

Clearly, she loves a challenge. Not only did she set these goals for herself, but she exceeded them.

“Physically, I knew that she could climb at summits because we spend lots of time out in the wilderness … but seeing her do all the fundraising and talk to strangers on the trail and tell them about her goal and being here today, it’s just, yeah, it’s really special,” Karina’s mother, Lindsey Wallis told CBC News.

The challenge’s most difficult part was raising so much money for her favourite cause, but Karina threw everything into it.

 She managed to raise $10,046 for the Alberta Wilderness Association. Two grand over her original goal!

Dedicated to conserving our province’s wild spaces and completing a protected areas network, the Alberta Wilderness Association has inspired communities to care for Alberta’s wild spaces through awareness and action since 1965.

8-year-old girl with arms out in triumph on top of Table Mountain in the Castle Wilderness in Alberta
Karina on summit #4 – Table Mountain. adventures-4wild | Instagram

Every dollar raised will be funnelled back into protecting the same mountains she climbed!

And if you’re looking for (advanced) hiking recommendations, Karina’s got a whole roster of options to help you pick from! The eight mountains she summited during her challenge were The Sulphur Skyline Summit, Black Rock Mountain, Windtower, Ha Ling Peak, Table Mountain, Mount Lipsett, Heart Mountain, and Folding Mountain.

Un-shockingly, she said her favourite was The Heart Mountain trek – the most difficult of the bunch.

Karina’s achievement extends beyond personal triumph; it demonstrates yet again Albertan’s boundless grit, drive and care.

Her climbs were a challenge, but the goal of all her efforts was simple.”The wilderness is extraordinary,” she said. “I think that the wilderness should [stay] wilderness.”

All the support given for Karina’s cause shows that Albertans definitely agree.

Albertans are tied with Manitobans as the most charitable province per capita. Now we have reason to give more – like Karina, our challenge is to be number one!

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