Meet 8-year-old Roxy, the youngest female to climb Kilimanjaro

Meet 8-year-old Roxy, the youngest female to climb Kilimanjaro

Travel and family vacations

Meet 8-year-old Roxy, the youngest female to climb Kilimanjaro

Beset by doubt, pain?  Keep going.

You might get farther than you think.

At age 8, Roxy Getter trekked 19,341 feet to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro this summer, making her the youngest female to climb Africa’s most famous mountain.

“I didn’t think I would make it to the top, but I did,” Roxy told All The Moms.

WATCH: Hear Roxy talk about her historic climb

‘Is this safe for the kids?’

Roxy Getter. Credit: Getter family

There was reason to worry.

In the three months before the trip to Tanzania, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located, her mother, Sarah Getter, awoke several nights at 4 a.m. and turned to her husband:

“What are we doing? Is this safe for the kids?”

Roxy had open-heart surgery when she was 1, Sarah said. Roxy’s brother, Ben, 10, also had heart issues. Both see a cardiologist for regular check-ups but are doing great. No issues. Still, before traveling, Sarah insisted both children see a cardiologist. Both were cleared for the trip.

Besides, the family had never even camped overnight before.

The kids were fresh off soccer season and were in good shape, but there’s not much hiking in flat Punta Gorda, Fla., where they live. Roxy, Ben, Sarah and her husband, Bobby, trained over three months by running stadium stairs, bike riding and taking long walks.

First day, worst day

The family started on July 6 at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, where altitude sickness can inflict on climbers dizziness, vomiting and headaches, and temperature changes are extreme.

The first day’s hike was the worst, Roxy recalled.

“It was up and down, up and down, up and down. The whole time,” she said. “Your legs were just so tired.”

They hiked four to eight hours a day. During the day, the temperature was in the 60s, but at night, it dropped into the 30s. But it would get colder at night the closer they got to the peak.

On a four-hour hiking day, they would stop, eat and make camp, but their hiking team would have them up within a few hours. They would hike again for another two hours higher up the mountain so they could acclimate to altitudes for climbing the next day before retiring for the night.

They never expected to reach the top

Bobby, Sarah, Roxy and Ben Getter. Credit: Getter family

Sarah said she and Bobby, a doctor, never really expected to make the top of the mountain.

“Before we left, we just thought, ‘we’ll see how this goes.’ Our kids are very good. They don’t complain, and they didn’t along the way. We just kept getting closer and still we thought, ‘we’ll see.’ ”

They saw “a lot of stars at night” in a sky that looked “a bit more black,” Roxy said.

And once they were above the clouds on Day 2 of the climb, they saw “skies that were so incredibly blue, it was like a blue I have never seen before,” Sarah added.

Last day, big change

Credit: Getter family

On the final day of the climb, their “we’ll see” attitude abruptly changed. Sarah said:

“We all really wanted to make it.”

The family began the final stretch to the top at 11 p.m. They hiked through until they reached the peak at 6 a.m. July 11. The temperature was 6 degrees. Ben, Roxy’s brother, was the one who cheered the family, who shivered along the way.

“We could barely walk. We could barely talk,” Sarah recalled. “It was rough. But he was amazing, talking and leading the way.”

The rewards of the seven-day, six-night trip? Watching her kids push through something so difficult and “build their self-esteem and confidence for the future,” Sarah said. “To do something like that as a family was really special.”

And Roxy actually had something worth talking about when she returned to school this year about she what did on summer vacation. “I like that I made it because it was really, really hard,” she said.

The Climb Mount Kilimanjaro website, which tracks record climbs, has Roxy down as the mountain’s youngest female climber. Keats Boyd, who climbed in 2008, was 7.

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