Doug Tompkins, billionaire & co-founder of The North Face & Esprit, has died of hypothermia resulting from a kayak accident in Chilean Patagonia today.
“Since leaving the business world in 1989, Tompkins dedicated himself to environmental activism and land conservation. Along with his wife, Kris Tompkins, he bought and conserved over 2 million acres (8,100 km2) of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, more than any other private individual in the region, thus becoming one of the the largest private land-owners in the world.” – Wikipedia
The 72-year-old was paddling his kayak with a group of 5 others including Patagonia clothing company’s founder Yvon Chouinard, when their kayaks flipped into the 40ºF waters of Chile’s General Carrera Lake.
5 of the group made it to land but Doug remained in the frigid water until the Chilean Navy was able to rescue him.
Doug was flown to the Coyhiaque Regional Hospital but did not survive.
“In these extremely serious cases of hypothermia, survival is very rare.” – Carlos Salazar, the hospital’s director of the emergency unit
According to the Chilean website, Armada.cl, at 11am today, the port captain of the General Carrera lake received a call informing him that 6 foreign kayakers were requesting rescue.
At 1pm, the local maritime search and rescue sent the a Maritime Patrol PM-2050 rescue boat. A rescue helicopter was also sent to help. The boat rescued 3 of the kayakers and the helicopter rescued the other 3.
Wind and large waves reportedly caused the kayaks to overturn.
Doug Tompkins was native of Millbrook, NY. He co-founded The North Face in 1964. Tompkins was considered an accomplished mountaineer, surfer, skier, and kayaker. His second wife, Kris, was the CEO of Patagonia clothing company for 20 years.
Doug and Kris had been living in South America of late. They have bought up lots of land in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia in an effort to preserve the land. Doug was one of the largest private land owners in world owning over 2 million acres of land in the wilderness of Chile and Argentina. This land was all purchased in the name of conservation.