By Aurora Herrera
Can you imagine the founder of a multi-million-dollar company living off grid? The man at the helm of the globally successful The North Face went off grid with his wife in the early 90’s to explore the mountains of Chile and Argentina. Their love of the wild outdoors moved the couple to purchase more than 2.2 million acres of land, spending more than $370 million, to restore, improve and protect the land and then return it to the public as national parks
That man is Doug Tompkins. He passed away exactly one year ago.
His wife Kris McDivitt was the CEO of Patagonia and successfully ran the company of Tompkins’ long time friend and fellow climber Yvon Chouinard.
Described as an “adventure-junkie rock-climber” Tompkins showed that he was an outlier from an early age. He did not graduate from high school and spent the early 60’s rock climbing in Europe, Colorado and South America. In 1968 he set off to Patagonia with Yvon Chouinard, travelling for six months southwards from California. Tompkins made a film about the journey title Mountain of Storms; him and Chouinard had put up a new route on Mount Fitzroy.
When Tompkins moved to Chile he established the Foundation for Deep Ecology and also made organic farming a priority, establishing farms which produced organic products that supported the families in the community. Tompkins and McDivitt established two parks before his death; Pumalín Park, Corcovado National Park and was in the process of setting up Great Iberá Park, carded to be the largest national park in Argentina.
In 2007, the International Conservation Caucus bestowed its ‘good Steward’ to Tompkins and McDivitt. In that same year he was appointed an honorary member of the American Soceity of Landscape Architects for his work in restoring affected landscaoes. In 2009, Latin Trade named Tompkins ‘Evvironmental Leader of the Year’ and in 2012 the African Rainforest Conservancy awarded him and the couple the ‘New Species Award’.
We remember Doug Tompkins for his remarkable work as a conservationist, philanthropist, businessman, agriculturalist and an off grid talent.
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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