UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — Marshall Grupp of Upper Saddle River had a dream from the time he took African Studies in college: to go to Africa.
Forty years later, he and his wife, Lori Rosen, took their two children— Holden, 20, and Cyerra, 13 — to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Or rather, they went up Mount Kilimanjaro.
To the top, that is, in a summer trip that changed their lives.
“It was a bit of a lark, but we made it,” said Rosen, 61, owner of The Rosen Group, a Manhattan communications firm.
At typical altitudes, Grupp is a partner in an audio post production company and is involved in local politics.
The family worked through a Seattle-based adventure travel outfitter.
“Aptly, it was named Mountain Madness ,” Rosen said.
The whole family is fit. That helped.
But, Rosen said, it wasn’t total preparation. There was lots to get used to. Undoubtedly, the climb was the hardest thing the family ever did.
For starters, there was the ascent itself over rocks, rocks and more rocks.
Then there was the nausea and headaches brought on by high altitude.
The frigid temperature inside their two tents.
And the perfect stillness of the mountain nights.
“Our group of 11 had our own chef and the food was surprisingly good. We would have curry rice, fresh avocado salad and homemade soup every night,” Rosen said.
“But dinner was done by 6:30 p.m.,” she added. “Then you go into your tent. You fall asleep at 8 and you’re wide awake in the middle of the night.”
It took seven days of hiking to go up 19,341 feet to the summit. The toughest stretch was the eight-hour climb before the summit to go from 17,000 to 18,500 feet.
The whole time, Rosen never looked up or down, just at the person in front of her.
After all that, getting to the top was emotional, she said. The high didn’t last long.
Then came the two-day trek down.
“You have to be very strong,” she said. “All of a sudden, you’re using muscles that you didn’t use at all going up. You’re walking down, like you’re on a ski slope, only in dirt.”
Five months later, the trip has had one lasting effect for her: she’s not as nervous or concerned as she once was about the environment.
When she participated in the Women’s March last month, for instance, she didn’t give it a second thought.
If she could sustain climbing up Kilimanjaro, she thinks to herself, she can do much more without any anxiety whatsoever.
And that shift alone was worth the trip up the highest mountain in Africa.