50 for Tibet: Celebrating One Mountain Culture to Preserve Another.
About Us: 50 for Tibet History

• History of the Tibet Occupation • The Rowell Fund
• Galen Rowell and Barbara Cushman Rowell • Tibet at a Glance
• History of Galen's Interest in Tibet  

Galen Rowell and Barbara Cushman Rowell

Galen and Barbara Cushman Rowell.
Barbara and Galen Rowell. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ellen K. Rudolph.

Galen Rowell
Galen Rowell at age 32.
Galen Rowell in front of his famous image of Tibet's Potala Palace
In 1972, at age 32, Galen dedicated his life to photography and wilderness exploration, working on many assignments for National Geographic and other publications. He went to the Himalayas more than 25 times and was one of the first Americans allowed into Tibet in the early 1980s, resulting in a highly acclaimed book, Mountains of the Middle Kingdom: Exploring the High Peaks of China and Tibet (1983).

Galen returned to Tibet in 1987 and 1988 and produced the book My Tibet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1990. But it was a lesser known article, "The Agony of Tibet," in the Greenpeace magazine that year that had a profound impact on awareness of environmental dangers in Tibet. Galen's last expedition in summer 2002 was back to Tibet with Conrad Anker, Rick Ridgeway and Jimmy Chin to document the birthing ground of the endangered Tibetan antelope.

Galen produced 18 books and in 1984 received the Ansel Adams Award for his contribution to the art of wilderness photography.

"Galen Rowell was a kind and generous friend to the Tibetan people. His beautiful book, MY TIBET, inspired many other photographers and filmmakers to contribute their talents to helping the Tibetan cause. Galen's enthusiasm was catching. His work and the work of others inspired by him brought the beauty of Tibet and the challenges faced by the Tibetan people to the eyes of the world. We will always be grateful for his friendship and his tireless efforts on our behalf."
~ His Holiness The Dalai Lama, May 20, 2003

Barbara Cushman Rowell
Galen and Barbara with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.
Galen and Barbara with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
Barbara Cushman Rowell was the guiding force behind the Mountain Light business from its inception and was the president of Mountain Light Photography. Barbara studied textiles and business and graduated in 1978 from the University of California at Davis with Highest Honors.

In 1981, she met Galen while working for The North Face as Director of Public Relations. They were married several months later. Barbara also pursued her own interests in flying; she was the company pilot for Mountain Light and flew Galen while he took aerial photographs.

Barbara traveled to Tibet numerous times and developed a passion for the country that continued throughout her life. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic and on book and magazine covers. She had recently completed a book, Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey.