The North Face Co-Founder Douglas Tompkins Dies In Chile

Douglas Tompkins
Douglas Tompkins died of hypothermia after his kayak capsized in cold water.
Courtesy Image.

The North Face co-founder Douglas Tompkins, died yesterday of hypothermia after his kayak capsized in a lake in Chile’s Patagonia region, according to local government reports. He was 72.

A committed conservationist and philanthropist, Tompkins was kayaking with five others on Lake Carrera in southern Chile, according reports, when violent winds whipped waves that tossed the group into the cold water.

They were rescued by a Chilean Navy ship, but Tompkins’ body temperature was a mere 66 degrees Fahrenheit by then, according to the regional health department. He was flown by private helicopter to a hospital in the town of Coyhaique, Chile, where he later died.

According to his daughter, Summer Tompkins Walker, he was an adventurer, often climbing to the tops of mountains and flying airplanes.

Tompkins founded The North Face outdoor clothing and camping label in 1964 with a partner. Four years later, he helped his first wife, Susie Tompkins Buell, found clothing brand Esprit.

After selling his stakes in The North Face and Esprit, Tompkins retired to Chile in 1990 and become a noted conservationist and philanthropist. He helped create a string of national parks in Chile and donated 3,000 square miles of land to Chile and Argentina to help preserve a forest region on their border.