Press Release


Press Release
Monday, August 12, 2002
Photo © 1999 Frans Lanting

To honor the lives of Galen and Barbara, Mountain Light Gallery invites you to visit the Bishop Gallery to view their work, remember them, and share your memories with friends and family.

A fund has been set up for those interested in making donations. For more information click here. For those interested in furthering Galen and Barbara Rowell’s efforts for the people, wildlife and environment of Tibet, please visit our News Room page. You may also wish to download the Rowell Fund for Tibet brochure (PDF, 218k).

SCROLL DOWN to see additional news and updates that have been added since this press release.

World-renowned wilderness photographer and writer Galen Rowell, and his wife and business partner Barbara Cushman Rowell, a photographer and writer in her own right, died early Sunday morning in an airplane crash outside of Bishop, Calif.

The Rowells, who were returning to their Bishop home from a circumnavigation of the Bering Sea, were passengers in a small privately owned plane that went down south of the Bishop Airport. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by NTSB and FAA officials.

The plane carried four people and there were no survivors. Tom Reid of Bishop piloted the plane. The fourth passenger was Carol McAfee, also of Bishop.

Galen is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Nicole Ryan and “Tony” Edward Anthony Rowell, and two grandsons, Forrest Avery Ryan and Colby Dustin Ryan.

Barbara is survived by her mother Lucile Cushman, brother Robert Cushman, and nieces Mariah and Grace Cushman.

Born Aug. 23, 1940 in Oakland, Calif., to a college professor and a concert cellist, Galen was raised in Berkeley and was introduced to wilderness before he could walk. He began climbing mountains at the age of 10 and by age 60 he had completed more than 40 expeditions on all seven continents and to both poles. He has produced 18 books of photos and text that exemplify his special brand of participatory wilderness photography in which the photographer transcends being an observer with a camera to become an active participant in the image being photographed.

In 1984 he received the Ansel Adams Award for his contributions to the art of wilderness photography. Since 1986, he has written a popular monthly column for Outdoor Photographer Magazine and in 1992 he received a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Grant to photograph Antarctica.

Barbara Rowell was the president of Mountain Light Photography, a photo agency, gallery and small press co-owned with Galen. Barbara piloted a Cessna T206 and had recently completed her first book Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey, scheduled to be released in October of 2002. Her photographs have been published in National Geographic, Outside, Plane & Pilot, and in many books, calendars, and travel publications.

Barbara was born Jan. 29, 1948 in Hawaii to Lucile and Irving Cushman while her father was stationed in the Navy at Pearl Harbor. At the age of five, her family was transferred to Texas for a brief stay in Kingsville before settling in California. After moving to Aspen to design ski wear, she returned to California to complete her studies in Textiles and Business, and graduated in 1978 from the University of California at Davis with Highest Honors.

Barbara and Galen were married in 1981 and together built Mountain Light Photography into a successful gallery and stock photography business that recently relocated from the Bay Area to their new home of Bishop in the Eastern Sierra.

Barbara and Galen traveled to many exotic locations, including to a National Geographic assignment in Pakistan to cover the highest war in history where they were flown throughout the Himalaya as guests of President Zia. They have also been the guests of the Dalai Lama, and served as guides to Robert Redford on a trek through Nepal.

They touched many lives around the world, and they will be sorely missed.

Services for the couple are pending. Please check the Mountain Light Gallery website for more extensive biographies, and further information as it becomes available:

Press seeking bio photos should contact the Mountain Light Stock Dept. (760)-873-7700.


A guestbook has been added to the Mountain Light web site for those who wish to share their memories and feelings about Galen and Barbara Rowell.

Click here to visit or add a comment to the guestbook.

Memorial Fund

A fund has been established by the families of Barbara and Galen to keep their passion for the preservation of the wild alive through philanthropic work.

A gift to The Galen Rowell and Barbara Cushman Rowell Memorial Fund will help to make their visions continue to take root and grow.

The family will choose to direct the donations to nonprofit organizations that will further Galen’s and Barbara’s interests. This could include a donation to a Mountain Light nonprofit organization that may be formed in the future.

Those who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution should send checks to:

Rowell Legacy Fund
c/o Yosemite National Institutes
GGNRA, Building 1055
Sausalito, CA 94965
ATTN: Janet Lewis

For more information, contact Nicole Rowell Ryan or Robert Cushman at (760) 873-7700.

Berkeley Memorial

The lives, spirits and adventures of Galen Rowell and Barbara Cushman Rowell were celebrated at a public memorial service on Sunday, October 13, 2002 at 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Community Theater in Berkeley, Calif.

Speakers included: Conrad Anker, world-renowned mountaineer and member of The North Face athlete team; Kathryn Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund; Bob Hansen, President, Yosemite Fund; Mingma Norbu Sherpa, Director of Conservation, Asia and Pacific, World Wildlife Fund; Steve Werner, Publisher, Outdoor Photography and Plane & Pilot; Frans Lanting, world-renowned wildlife photographer; Christine Eckstrom, freelance writer and editor specializing in natural history; and Kristine Tompkins, Director, Patagonia Land Trust and former CEO of Patagonia, Inc.

Also, there were special messages from NBC Nightly News Anchor Tom Brokaw and award-winning author and novelist Barry Lopez. The emcee was Doug McConnell of KRON-TV’s Bay Area Backroads.


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