Kayaking Accident Claims North Face Founder

The founder of North Face, who died in a kayaking accident earlier this week, is being remembered as a conservationist and someone who loved the outdoors. 

More than contributing to one of the leading outdoor gear companies in the world, Douglas Tompkins was an outdoorsman at heart who was devoted to conserving the wild land that brought him so much pleasure. 

Tompkins was kayaking on a lake in Chile with five others on Dec 8 when the weather turned bad. A coast guard helicopter rescued the others, but Tompkins was unable to survive the frigid lake waters that were below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The 72-year-old former executive had moved to South America in the 1990s with his wife Kristine McDivitt, founder of the Patagonia company. The two had split their time between homes in Argentina and Chile, where they did considerable conservation work. 

It was reported that Tompkins used his fortune to protect 2.2 million acres, according to the New York Times.

As a young man Tompkins sought out adventure skiing, rock climbing and even hitchhiking, which was how he met his first wife. Together they founded North Face along with the Esprit clothing company.

The pair spent much of their time during that period in San Francisco, where they began the small retailer they called North Face because it located in the North Beach neighborhood of the city.

Tompkins sold his interest in what became a global apparel company in 2000. He went on to largely shun the business world and devote most of his time toward conservation and education. 

“He flew airplane, he climbed to the top of mountains all over the world,” his daughter Summer Tompkins Walker told the NY Times. “To have lost his life in a lake and have nature just sort of gobble him up is just shocking.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia