Local 11-Year Old Conquers Mt. Kilimanjaro

South Florida pre-teen joins a select group that has scaled Africa's tallest mountain

Nico Saporito is just like any normal 11-year-old boy who likes to play outdoors and thinks he can climb mountains.

But when the South Florida pre-teen tells his parents he is going to reach a peak, they know he really means it.

Saporito, who hasn't even graduated grade school yet, recently became one of the youngest humans to scale Africa's mighty Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world.

"Just go one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other," he said of the ascent he made earlier this month. "I kept on saying that over and over and pretty much made it.”

Saporito and his father, Robert, came up with the idea for a father-son summit while watching The Discovery Channel when the boy was just nine.

But he was too young to go face-to-face with the African giant so Saporito would have to wait. The mountain would have to wait.

The slight-built, soft-spoken Saporito didn't wait patiently for his time in the African sun. The boy has been on expeditions that would make most seasoned explorers and adventurists turn in their compasses and head home.

Saporito has already rafted on the Amazon River, charted the Galapagos Islands, seen most of Europe, and tackled the best of what the U.S. has to offer like camping in Yellowstone National Park.

But Mount Kilimanjaro is a different beast, and one that few men have been able to tame.

At more than 19,000 feet above sea level and a treacherous terrain, Kilimanjaro is a legendary climb and is the monster in African legends.

People have dared to challenge the volcanic mountain and lost their lives trying

But Saporito isn't afraid of things that go bump in the night, no matter how tall, his dad said.

“I saw it as an opportunity that if he was going to accomplish this he could use it as a stepping stone to tackle other challenges he will face in later life,” said Robert Saporito, who operates an exotic bamboo nursery.

For months, Nico and Robert researched and trained for the climb. They got their bodies ready for the rarified air that would starve their lungs by wearing masks that allowed limited oxygen to them.

With the help of two guides, it took Saporito four days to make it to Africa's highest peak.

"Like, I saw the sign and I said, 'Oh, my God we made it!'" Saporito recalled.

Nico has a certificate signed by the park superintendent. But his most prized keepsake from the trip is a piece of volcanic rock his dad picked up at the summit.

Then there are the 1,200 digital pics of the trip and a video of Nico standing tall atop Kilimanjaro. Nice memories, but Nico is already on to the next adventure.

Saporito and his dad are off to Australia later this summer. The boy wants to set foot on all seven continents, he said.

At this rate, he'll have that licked by the time he hits puberty.

“He’s a great travel companion,” Robert Saporito said.

Follow Hank Tester on Twitter at @wtvjreporter.

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