Paul Kiesow Petzoldt

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Biographical Information

(1908 - October 6, 1999) "In the early 1930s, Petzoldt started the first guide concession in Grand Teton National Park.

"In 1938, Petzoldt was selected to join the first American expedition to K2 in the Himalayas. While on this climb, he set a record for the longest continuous time at an altitude of more than 20,000 feet without artificial oxygen.

"During World War II, Petzoldt served with the Army's 10th Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colo., teaching the ski troops safety and preparation techniques. In the spring of 1942, Petzoldt worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was responsible for the buying and shipment of food to Russia with the Lend Lease Program...

"Also in 1963, Petzoldt helped establish the first American Outward Bound program in Colorado. While working at Outward Bound, he recognized the need to teach people how to safely enjoy and conserve the outdoors. His vision was to train leaders capable of conducting wilderness programs in a safe and rewarding manner and the result was the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).

"He founded NOLS in Lander, Wyo., in 1965. After being featured in a documentary on the Alcoa Hour and in Life magazine, Petzoldt's school rapidly grew and today, the school he started more than 40 years ago is the leading nonprofit outdoor education school, with more than 120,000 alumni. Paul Petzoldt later went on to found the Wilderness Education Association in 1977, and it is said he considers NOLS and WEA to be his two most lasting and important contributions to society. NOLS has 14 locations around the world and educates more than 3,000 students annually. "[1]

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  1. National Outdoor Leadership School Paul Petzoldt, organizational web page, accessed January 1, 2013.