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Doug Tompkins Dead in Kayak Accident

The North Face founder suffered severe hypothermia

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Update: Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and mountaineer Rick Ridgeway were among the kayakers rescued by naval personnel on Tuesday.

In a news release published on its website, the Chilean navy identified the other paddlers who were out with Tompkins as Weston Boyles and Jib 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.

Original post: Doug Tompkins, the outdoorsman and conservationist who co-founded The North Face, has died following a kayaking accident in Patagonia.

Tompkins, 72, was kayaking on Chile’s General Carrera Lake with a group including Mexicans and Americans at around 11 a.m. local time when six of the paddlers capsized, according to Chilean news site La Nación.

While three of the kayakers successfully made it to an island, Tompkins and two others remained in the water until personnel from the Chilean Navy arrived to rescue them. Tompkins was then transported by helicopter to the Coyhaique Regional Hospital, where doctors attempted to revive him.

Carlos Salazar, director of the hospital’s emergency unit, said earlier on Tuesday that Tompkins faced steep odds.

“In these extremely serious cases of hypothermia, survival is very rare,” he told Chile’s EMOL news site.

An accomplished climber, paddler, and mountain guide, Tompkins is best known for founding TNF in 1966. In recent years, Tompkins and his wife, former Patagonia CEO Kristine McDivitt-Tompkins, had worked to create a string of of new, U.S.-style national parks in southern Chile, acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforests and former ranch lands, rehabilitating them, and transferring some to the control of the country’s government.

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