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Grand Teton Climb raises $40,000 for the Rowell Fund for Tibet

A benefit climb, featuring renowned mountain adventurers David Breashears and Jimmy Chin, recently raised $40,000 for the Rowell Fund for Tibet.

Breashears and Chin donated their time and energy to help lead about a dozen people, including one of the "singing nuns of Drapchi prison," up Wyoming's 13,770-foot tall Grand Teton. Snow and ice kept the group from reaching the summit on Aug. 26th, however, the majority of participants, including an 11-year-old boy, reached the Enclosure, a 13,000 summit on the north ridge of the Grand Teton.

The success of this climb, guided by Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, and a similar climb in 2005 has organizers already planning for another climb in 2007. For Breashears, the climbs demonstrate a show of solidarity and resolve among those choosing to donate to the Rowell Fund.

"A mountain is a challenge and requires determination and fortitude, and the situation in Tibet is a metaphor for that," Breashears said in 2005. "The Chinese are a tremendous force in Tibet. They're fairly immovable and determined, but a determined group of people can take on a foe like that and make a change if they're resourceful and resilient."

And few seem as resilient as Ngawang Sangdrol. A member of the Garu Nunnery, Sangdrol was detained and imprisoned in 1992 for peacefully demonstrating against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Her prison term spiked from an initial three-years to a combined sentence of 23 years – a result of several sentence extensions including one for singing songs praising the Dalai Lama. After enormous international pressure, she was released into the International Campaign for Tibet's care in 2003, and now attends Columbia University, learning English and will probably join ICT's staff afterwards. She was nominated for "International Woman of the Year" in 2004 and was featured in the July 2nd issue of Parade magazine.

Breashears filmed the IMAX movie, Everest, has successfully climbed to the summit of Everest five times and co-produced Red Flag over Tibet for Frontline, hailed as one of the best documentaries about Tibet. Participants in this adventure were treated to a special advance screening of Breashears' new feature documentary about the 1996 Everest tragedy, which will be released this fall.

Alongside Galen Rowell, Conrad Anker and Rick Ridgeway, Chin walked across Tibet in search of the birthing grounds of Tibetan antelope, an expedition which was featured in National Geographic. He is a professional adventure photographer, and photographed the Teton trip.

The Rowell Fund for Tibet was established in memory of photographer Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara, who died in a chartered plane crash in 2002. Rowell's photography documented the struggles of the Tibetan people, and he had close ties with many in the Jackson climbing community, where the benefit climb was based.

The Rowell Fund, administered by the ICT, was established to encourage and support the work of Tibetans in the language and visual arts who can make significant contributions to Tibetan culture and society. Each year the Rowell fund gives small grants to those striving to meet these goals. This year more than 30 people have applied for funding. Winners of the grants will be announced later this year.

For more information or to make a donation or pledge, please click here.

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