Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face, dies in kayaking accident

Doug Tompkins, 72, founded The North Face in 1966. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Doug Tompkins, 72, founded The North Face in 1966. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face, died Tuesday after a kayaking accident in Chile.

Tompkins, 72, reportedly suffered from extreme hypothermia when his kayak capsized on Lake General Carrera, in Chile’s Patagonia region.

Tompkins was one of six kayakers who capsized on the lake. Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and mountaineer Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's vice president of environmental affairs, were among those rescued. Everyone was in good condition, according to Fox News Latino.

In a news release published on its website, the Chilean navy identified the other kayakers who were out with Tompkins as Weston Boyles and Jim Ellison of the United States, and Lorenzo Alvarez of Mexico.

According to the release, the local naval authority received a phone call at 11:10 a.m. alerting them that a group of six foreign kayakers were drifting near the Avellano area of the lake and needed rescue. The navy dispatched a patrol boat to the area, while coordinating support from a local air ambulance company and a ferry, La Tehuelche. The kayakers also arranged for a private helicopter from Lodge Terraluna, a tour company in nearby Chile Chico.

The rescued kayakers "indicated they had flipped due to the prevailing weather conditions in the area, produced by high wind and the surf at the moment of the accident," the Navy said.

Tompkins was "a force for nature" and well-known as "one of the Earth's foremost conservationists," according to a press release from Tompkins Conservation. He and his wife, Kristine, acquired more than 2 million acres of land for conservation through charitable organizations they founded. They helped create five South American national parks and were working to establish several more.

"At his core an activist for nature and beauty, Tompkins possessed an incredible love for the wild world he explored in climbing and paddling trips," Tompkins Conservation wrote, adding that its founder had been "cheating death" for years during dangerous climbing expeditions to some of the most remote places in the world.

In addition to founding The North Face, Tompkins co-founded the Esprit clothing company with Susie Tompkins, his first wife. The brand called him "a great man and a visionary" in a Facebook post, and wrote that it deeply appreciated his respect and passion for the planet.

The North Face also expressed its sadness upon hearing of Tompkins’ death in a post on Facebook.

“Doug was special to many of us,” the company wrote. “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 will be missed.”

Check back at SNEWS for more information as this story develops. 


mountain of storms

Mountain of Storms' 50th anniversary

The year was 1968 in California. A group of five friends who called themselves the Fun Hogs—Yvon Chouinard, Doug Tompkins, Dick Dorworth, Chris Jones, and Lito Tejada-Flores—crammed into an old van and surfed, skied, and climbed their way south toward Patagonia in South America. more

Peter Noone of Patagonia dies at 75

RIP, Peter Noone

Longtime Patagonia employee Peter Kinnoch Noone, who was known for his gruff exterior, sharp sense of justice, and down-to-earth style of the outdoor industry’s early days, died of recurrent cancer on July 9 at his home in Ojai, California. He was 75. Noone's outdoor retail more

Doug Tompkins, 72, founded The North Face in 1966. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

5 new national parks in Chile

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has created five massive national parks to preserve the Patagonia, thanks to an astounding donation from Doug Tompkins and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins. Doug Tompkins founded The North Face and Esprit and tragically died after a kayaking accident more

A North Face-sponsored runner, Fernanda Maciel is shown in red jacket, climbing an extremely steep scree slope in Argentina.

The North Face's new step to advance equity

The North Face has taken a new step to advance equity for all. Today, the iconic company announced its commitment as a Peak Partner with Camber Outdoors. Peak Partners contribute above membership dues to accelerate Camber Outdoors’ ability to develop programs that move the entire more


The C-Spot | Ann Krcik from The North Face

SNEWS: What prompted you to start OIWC, and how was it received back then? AK: In the early 90s there were woman creating careers in the Outdoor Industry—like Kitty Bradley from Nike, Sally McCoy at The North Face, Niede Cooley at Marmot, Karen t’Kint from FiveTen, and Joan more

Carsten von Birckhahn

Carsten von Birckhahn dies in paragliding accident

Carsten von Birckhahn, the CEO and brand manager of Edelrid, died Saturday in a paragliding accident.  Von Birckhahn was a “pioneer and a hands-on man, a mountain enthusiast and a gear innovator, according to a press release from Edelrid on Wednesday. He died after a crash more

TNF top of images

The North Face apologizes for 'manipulating' Wikipedia photos

The North Face’s latest marketing stunt isn’t about elevating women or getting more people outside. And no, it’s not about public lands either. The highly-regarded global brand earlier this week bragged that it had found a loophole to crawl to the top of Google’s search results more

Ice climber in red The North Face FutureLight jacket climbing a wall of blue ice.

Will FutureLight, The North Face's new waterproof/breathable technology, dethrone Gore as the gold standard?

Words like “game changer” and “disruptor” get tossed around a little too easily these days, but with FutureLight, its patent-pending new waterproof/breathable technology, The North Face says it has a product to back up those superlatives. In fact, the brand believes so strongly more

Screen Shot 2020-10-29 at 11.29.24 AM

The North Face invests $7 million in DEI

It's been 10 years since The North Face launched its widely praised charitable giving initiative Explore Fund, which has provided millions of dollars to outdoor nonprofits over the years. With a stated mission of enabling exploration and fostering a love of wild places, Explore more