Having read Paul Petzoldt’s wonderful “Wilderness Handbook” I was familiar with his work with the National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS), however I feel like I got a real insight into the great man from a set of videos filmed in the 1960s about NOLS. They give such a fascinating look into the roots of the school and into Petzholdt; his experience, passion and philosophy of the outdoors.
Petzoldt is a real hero, with a truly incredible resumé. In his youth he climbed extensively in the Grand Teton range and eventually founded the Petzoldt-Exum School of American Mountaineering in the 1930s. He spent time living in England which gave him the opportunity to climb in Europe, particularly in the Swiss Alps during the late 30s where he honed his skills and made a double traverse of the Matterhorn in one day with his climbing buddy Dan Bryant of New Zealand.
Petzoldt was selected to go on the first American expedition to K2, and during the Second World War he became a representative of the Department of Agriculture in Lend-Lease and then became a tutor to the troops of the U.S Army’s 10th Mountain Division. After the war, he went on to teach thousands of youthful American’s to love and thrive in the outdoors through the ‘Outward Bound’ program in Colorado in 1963, and then through the founding of NOLS in 1965. He was a true outdoors philosopher and pioneer, believing that youngsters should not be taught at, rather they should be involved in their own progression and learnings.
Sadly Petzoldt died in 1999, however his legacy lives in the people he inspired and through NOLS which still runs to this day. Thank you to NOLS for sharing these videos and for keeping his legacy alive.