Galen Avery Rowell (born in California on August 23, 1940 – August 11, 2002) shared his grace and grandeur of the wilderness with everyone. He popularized the use of neutral-density filters and became one of the first to use 35 mm cameras for outdoor photography exclusively, pioneering the art of adventure in photography. With his wilderness adventure, rock climbing and scenic photography Galen influenced a number of photographers.
Style Photojournalist and American Landscape Photographer
Beginnings Galen Rowell became interested in the wilderness at a young age and started climbing mountains at the young age of 10 years old. He climbed and explored mountains and the wilderness for the next 52 years of his life. He began just sharing his photographs with friends and family.
Career Galen started working as a full-time photographer in 1972 after selling his small automobile business. When he wasn’t working on assignments for Out Photographer, Life, National Geographic, he was writing in his home in Bishop and enjoying mountain climbing in the High Sierra.
Accomplishments Galen Rowell was a first in a number of accomplishments. He was the first to take a one-day ascent of Kilimanjaro; first ski circumnavigation of Denali; first ascent of the Amne Machin peak in 1981, reporting its altitude at 20,610 feet; first one-day ascent of Denali; first ascent of Great Trango Tower in Karakoram Himalaya in Pakistan; more than 100 first ascents in Sierra Nevada that were technical climbs; and the oldest person to climb El Capital in Yosemite in one day at the age of 57.
In Today’s Culture Galen Rowell’s work is displayed at the Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop in the Sierra Nevada town.
Honors Galen Rowell was awarded a number of honors: 1977 Winner of Sierra’s Club’s Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award; 1984 Ansel Adams Award; and 1992 National Science Foundation Artists & Writer Grant to Photograph Antarctica.
On August 11, 2002 upon returning from a photography workshop in Alaska Rowell, his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, pilot Tom Reid, and Tom Reid’s friend Carol McAffee were killed in a plane crash near the Bishop, California Inyo County Airport.