Published on December 9, 2015
The North Face Founder Dies
Douglas Tompkins, founder of The North Face has died of hypothermia following a kayaking accident in southern Chile. The 72-year-old clothing billionaire and staunch environmentalist was amongst a group of six kayakers who got into trouble in strong waves. Whilst the other five were reportedly unhurt, Tompkins was taken by helicopter to hospital in Coyhaique, but had, according to doctors, stopped breathing by the time he arrived.
Tompkins founded The North Face in in San Francisco in 1964, initially as a ‘small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation’, later helping his then wife Susie establish the Esprit clothing brand.
“A passionate advocate for the environment”
Increasingly ill at ease with big business and consumerism in particular, Tompkins shed his interests in both Esprit and The North Face in 1990, retiring to Chile to pursue environmental causes. He bought large tracts of land across Patagonia to help preserve them and set up the Foundation for Deep Ecology with fellow activist Gerry Mander. In total, he and wife Kris McDivitt Tompkins are thought to have bought up more than two million acres of land to create reserves.
In a statement following the news of his death The North Face said: ‘Doug was a passionate advocate for the environment. His legacy of conservation will help ensure that there are outdoor spaces to be explored for generations to come.’