The founder of The North Face apparel company, Douglas Tompkins passed away on Tuesday. He was 72.
New York Times reports Tompkins died of severe hypothermia after a kayaking accident in the Patagonia region of Chile. His and five others' kayaks were not able to withstand the strong waves of General Carrera and capsized. While everyone was rescued from the accident by a military patrol boat and a helicopter, spending "considerable amount of time in waters under 4 degrees Celsius" proved fatal for the businessman and environmental activist. Local prosecutor Pedro Salgado told Radio Bio that the lake was quite known for having unpredictable weather conditions.
His daughter said the sudden passing of his father due to the accident was shocking. He flew airplanes, he climbed to the top of mountains all over the world," shared his daughter Summer Tompkins Walker. "To have lost his life in a lake and have nature just sort of gobble him up is just shocking."
Tompkins is much better known as the founder of the outdoor outfitter, The North Face in 1964. He also co-founded the fashion brand, Esprit with his wife then. It was in the 90s when Tompkins and his second wife, would move to Chile. There, he purchased hundreds of thousands of acres of land and turned these into Pumalín Park, a nature sanctuary protecting 715,000 acres of rainforest that stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains," as reported by the Times. He also made land donations for the development of coastal national parks in Chile and Argentina.
The North Face has released a statement of the death via its Instagram page. Tompkins was described as "a passionate advocate for the environment." In the statement, The North Face wrote that his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day. He most recently visited our headquarters in Alameda, CA in 2013 and again inspired us to live a life of outdoor exploration. He will be missed."
We are all deeply saddened by the news of Doug Tompkins' passing. Doug was special to many of us. He founded The North Face in 1966 as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. He was a passionate advocate for the environment, and his legacy of conservation is one that we hope to help continue in the work we do every day. He most recently visited our headquarters in Alameda, CA in 2013 and again inspired us to live a life of outdoor exploration. He will be missed.