When Doug Tompkins first went to Argentina’s Perito Moreno National Park in 1992 to investigate the unclimbed south face of Cerro San Lorenzo, he and his climbing partners were blown away by the beauty and primeval rawness of the Lácteo River Valley — and shocked that it wasn’t part of the park. He vowed to do something about it, but unlike most people, Tompkins has the resources to act on beliefs this big. The co-founder of The North Face and Esprit clothing, the 70-year-old has devoted his energy and fortune to conserving land in Argentina and Chile, and he has so far acquired and set aside more than two million acres, more than any other person. A year and a half after visiting San Lorenzo — it’s still unclimbed — Tompkins bought 37,500 acres in the river valley. This week marked the formal transfer of the so-called Estancia El Rincon to Perito Moreno.
“This donation has been in the works for some time, largely because it took a long time to hammer out the details of future use and zoning within this new section of the park,” said Kris Tompkins, Doug’s wife and the president of Conservacion Patagonica, through which the land was given. “We finally feel secure that our vision for this land is permanently designated through the legal donation documents – and off it goes. It’s a great day for us.”
The donation follows the transfer of 155,000-acre Estancia Monte Leon to Argentine National Parks to create Monte Leon National Park.