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The North Face Founder Dead at 72 After Kayaking Accident

Photo: The North Face/Facebook

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Douglas Tompkins, the founder of The North Face, died yesterday in a kayaking accident in Chile. He was 72 years old. The New York Times reports that the lake he was boating on in Patagonia is known for unpredictable weather conditions. After his boating party's kayaks capsized, Tompkins was flown to a regional hospital with severe hypothermia.

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

Tompkins opened a ski and outdoors shop in San Francisco in 1966 that became The North Face, now a $2 billion brand. He also co-founded women's brand Esprit. He was passionate about conservation and had a goal to create 12 national parks in Chile and Argentina.

Here's a memorial posted by The North Face on Instagram:

We are all deeply saddened by the news of Doug Tompkins’ passing. Doug was special to many of us. He founded The North Face in 1966 as a small ski and backpacking retail and mail order operation in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. 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 most recently visited our headquarters in Alameda, CA in 2013 and again inspired us to live a life of outdoor exploration. He will be missed.