Doug Tompkins, Founder of The North Face, Dies in Kayaking Accident

Doug Tompkins died of hypothermia yesterday, when his kayak was turned over by large waves on General Carrera Lake in southern Patagonia.

Doug was known for founding the outdoor clothing brands The North Face and Esprit, but sold his stake in both of those companies decades ago to dedicate himself full time to conservation in Chile and Argentina. Doug was an avid outdoorsman, who spent much of his time skiing, climbing mountains and pursuing other natural interests. He was vehemently opposed to salmon farming and hydroelectric dams in the Patagonia region, and bought up thousands of acres of land to put into conservation and protect it from short-sighted economic interests. This has undoubtedly saved the health of many of Patagonia’s world class fisheries. Many Chileans and Argentineans were skeptical of Doug’s private land ownership. Some believed that he was purposefully hindering their economic growth and impinging upon their sovereignty. In an interview with The New York Times, he responded like this:

“We want to do something good, but you’ve got to be very naïve and out to lunch to think that certain sectors of society are not going to put up resistance. If you’re not willing to take the political heat, then you shouldn’t get into the game of land conservation, especially on a large scale.”

Read the full obituary here.

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