NOLS: National Outdoor Leadership School Home
The Leader
The Leader

Paul Tells His Story

by Molly Absolon
Reprinted from The Leader, Fall 1995.

Paul Petzoldt Paul Petzoldt began experimenting with leadership early. One of his first childhood memories is of directing his classmates in a game he made up called "stud horse." A farm boy, Paul was no stranger to the more intimate details of animal reproduction. The Petzoldt family raised horses, chickens, geese, ducks, hogs, cows, and mules on their place outside Idaho Falls, Idaho, and according to Paul, "everything but the mules were reproducing," especially their horse. They had a stallion that neighboring farmers used to breed their mares and those breeding sessions were, Paul recalls, "quite a show."

"When I went to school, the kids were running around at noon pushing each other down and playing cowboys and Indians. I thought to hell with this, let's play something fun. So I taught them how to play stud horse," Paul says with a laugh. "I was like a movie director out there telling everyone what to do. Well someone ran in and told the teacher I was doing something naughty. She came out and didn't ask any questions, she just knocked me down and sent me sprawling. I was furious. So I stood up, stomped my feet and said 'What did you do that for, what did you do that for?' I was probably six years old."

"That was my first attempt at leadership. It must have come naturally to me, but it ended up in disgrace." Paul lets out a great belly laugh as he finishes his story. He is a large, imposing man-well over six feet tall and close to 240 pounds-with a huge deep laugh and a tousled head of silver hair. More than 80 years have passed since the day Paul got his classmates to play stud horse and he has tried his hand at a variety of leadership roles in the interim. He has been a restaurateur, a used car salesman, an author, a military advisor, a lend-lease agent, a climbing guide, a student, a Himalayan mountaineer, a wheat farmer, a sheepherder, a professional poker player, a ski racer, an Outward Bound instructor, and the founder of the National Outdoor Leadership School and the Wilderness Education Association. To each of these jobs, Paul brought a unique flair. He is a man of extremes and contradictions. On one hand, he is a brilliant visionary, on the other he can be a jokester. He is known both as a charismatic teacher and as someone who has gotten into more than one fist fight in his time. He is a man who has made enemies, but also one who keeps what he calls his "brag file" of letters from hundreds of people thanking him for changing their lives and helping them live their dreams. It is perhaps because of these extraordinary characteristics that he has had such impact on people throughout his life. Whether you love or hate Paul Petzoldt, you cannot dismiss him.

Today, at 88, Paul's vision is fading due to glaucoma and cataracts. He has a hard time reading and white stripes mark the steps around his house. He moves slowly and methodically, his hands fluttering around to feel his way. But in spite of his weak eyesight, he is robust and healthy. He continues to be an avid student and an active teacher. He spends his days talking to visitors, dictating, or having newspapers and periodicals read to him. He is working on a number of book projects and still flies around the country to lecture on everything from leadership and minimum-impact camping to his life story. He lives with his wife Ginny on the shores of Lake Sebago in southern Maine for most of the year, although the couple also maintains a place in Idaho on the western side of his old playground, the Tetons. From his office in Maine, you can see the lake and hear the gentle slapping of the water on the rocks. The house is an old log cabin built by Ginny's grandfather in the 20s. Half of the building was closed up for the winter when I visited, but the rest was cozy and warm, and smelled like wood smoke and leather. Piles of magazines and books littered his workspace. Paul is a packrat; he stills lives the life of a man who has had to make do on odds and ends. He loves nothing more than to go to the dump and look for "deals," which then sit in the garage or in piles for a time when they may come in handy. Today these habits seem eccentric; 30 years ago when he started NOLS, they enabled courses to get into the field.

Paul and I talked for hours about his life and adventures in the office by Sebago. He showed me old photographs and newspaper clippings and I realized as I flipped through the albums, that in my imagination he had always been an old man-an old man with bushy white eyebrows, watery blue eyes, and jowly cheeks like the Cowardly Lion on the Wizard of Oz. Paul was already in his late 50s when he started NOLS. The pictures of him with brown hair and a square jaw, in cocky, youthful poses made me realize that I knew little about the 50 plus years that molded him into the man who dreamed up the National Outdoor Leadership School. Fifty plus years when Paul was a dashing young climbing guide with an old military cavalry hat set at a jaunty angle on his head. Years when he played football against Stanford and USC. Years when he was a Yell King for the University of Idaho and did backflips across the football field during time-outs. Years when he visited Windsor Castle, biked around Europe, lived in a commune in India, and raised sheep in Wyoming. Years of which I knew little beyond the legends: the legends of his ascent of the Grand Teton, his expedition to K2, and the founding of NOLS.

But you have to begin with the Grand.

Paul's first ascent of the mountain is deservedly infamous. In 1924, at the age of 16, he and his friend Ralph Herron, wandered into Jackson Hole and announced they were going to climb the Grand. Their foolish bravado was met by skepticism and teasing by the locals, but Billy Owen, who is credited by some with the first ascent of the peak, took them seriously and drew a map of the route for them.

Dressed in blue jeans and cowboy boots with the map in hand, Paul and Ralph set off on their adventure. Three days later, humbled, exhausted, and dressed in rags, the two straggled back to town. They had succeeded in climbing the mountain, but as Paul told reporters in the summer of 1994 at the 70th anniversary of that ascent, "It was awful. We did everything wrong... If we had known what hypothermia meant, we would have frozen to death!"

"This experience set the direction of my life. I knew that if I wanted to live to be an old mountaineer, I could not take such chances and be so uniformed about dangerous activities." Paul wrote years later in his book The New Wilderness Handbook.

Paul learned quickly. Within the next few years, he developed a system of signals for communication in the mountains; he came up with the sliding middleman technique for moving over technical terrain; he was probably the first mountain guide in the United States; and he climbed prolifically in the Tetons (his name appears every 10 signatures or so in the Grand Teton's summit register from the 1920s and 30s), the Wind Rivers, and the Sierra Madre de Santa Marta in Colombia.

"I really sort of revolutionized mountaineering in this country," Paul says. "My approach was totally different from the European approach. In Europe, you hired a guide who took you to the top-hauled you up and hauled you down. They would not even tell you the time of day. It was all a secret, they didn't want to wise up a sucker. They didn't want anyone learning enough to climb on their own. They were in business."

Paul was in business too, but he felt that it was "criminal" to leave people ignorant. He was a consummate teacher-an educator more than a guide and his philosophy carries over to NOLS today. He wanted his clients to leave their course with him at least knowing what they did not know. Many of the people he taught to climb went on to become well-known in their own right, including the man who later became his partner-Glen Exum.

It wasn't always easy getting clients in those early days. Paul recalls several summers spent camped along the shores of Jenny Lake with a couple of struggling landscape painters. They took turns buddying up to the passing tourists trying to sell their services and wares. "If I guided someone on the Grand, we ate. If they sold a painting, we ate," Paul laughingly remembers. But Paul didn't mind the hand-to-mouth existence. He had no ties, no obligations, and the mountains were a vast empty playground where every peak he climbed, every route he pioneered was pristine.

This lifestyle made Paul somewhat of a renegade. In the late 20s and 30s, living by your wits to support your climbing, or climbing to support an adventurous lifestyle was neither common nor socially acceptable. Unless, of course, you were independently wealthy. Paul was one of the first "climbing bums," a group that has included such celebrated men as Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Fred Beckey, Warren Harding and countless other climbing pioneers over the years. According to NOLS Executive Director Jim Ratz, "When I hear from an instructor that they plan on making NOLS or climbing their career, I suggest they speak to Paul or Tap (Tapley). Those guys have lived the life and know what it takes. It is one thing to be a climbing guide or instructor when you are young, but quite a another when you get older. It takes something special, like what Paul had, to make a living in the wilderness business."

One of the tourists Paul buddied up with on the shores of Jenny Lake was Sir Alfred Bailey. Bailey, who was the private chaplain to the King of England, vacationed in Jackson Hole. He had no interest in climbing the Grand, but he enjoyed walking and talking with Paul. Paul was self-taught, but his quest for knowledge was voracious and he was able to converse intelligently (and with strong opinions) on everything from politics and economics to religion and history. Both men enjoyed the discussions and the serendipitous encounter resulted in an invitation for Paul to spend a year at Windsor Castle. So off the Idaho farm boy went to the castles and crags of Great Britain and Europe. The year stretched into two, during which Paul earned money betting on his golf game, explored the countryside on a three-speed bicycle, and climbed in the Alps.

"There was some article about me in a European paper after I made the double traverse of the Matterhorn, where they described me as intrepid, expert, adventurous and impecunious. That pretty much described me-especially the impecunious," Paul says, smiling. But in spite of his perpetually penniless state, he flourished in Europe and made a name for himself in mountaineering circles-a name which helped him get invited to join the first American expedition to K2 in 1938.

In those days, K2 was in India and the journey to its base took close to three months of travel by boat, plane, horse and foot. The trip was an incredible adventure, but also a drain on Paul's limited financial resources. He was under the impression when he joined the expedition that everything would be paid for.

"I know that it was understood that I had no money to put into the expedition. But you know, I think rich people probably assume that everyone has plenty of spending money, which I didn't," Paul recalls. "and perhaps I had an idea that-and gosh, this is a false ego-but I probably thought at the time, Jesus, these guys are getting a helluv a good guide for nothing!"

Paul laughs as he tells this story, but it is apparent that money caused tension that strained the relations between the team members, particularly after the expedition. Nonetheless, the group worked well together and after spending two months on the mountain, they had established the fact that the "unclimbable" peak was climbable. Paul and Bill House succeeded in reaching well over 26,000 feet-a new high point on the mountain-and the line they took-the Abruzzi Ridge-continues to be the most commonly climbed route on K2 nearly 60 years later.

Around NOLS, Paul's experience on K2 is considered formative and many instructors trace certain concepts-expedition behavior, rationing, fasting, and the `rest step' to name a few-to his experience on the mountain. NOLS courses are based on an expedition model, and since K2 was Paul's first and most extensive expedition, it is probable that the experience and the people involved played a key role in making the school what it is today.

Paul opted to stay in India after the expedition, and once again, a chance encounter led to a chain of events that added to the excitement and infamy surrounding the legend of his life.

"When we came back from K2, I had several big ambitions. One was to learn about India. Hell, I was over there and I probably would never get back. So why leave when it was of such great interest to me?" Paul recalls. "I never believed in hocus pocus, so I didn't believe in Indian mysticism or reincarnation, but I wanted to see what made these people tick. I wanted to find out about India."

"I'm half a scholar. Not that I was a damn bit interested in becoming a disciple of any master or supermaster or anybody like that, but I was interested in how they held all their people together," Paul says. In Kashmir, Paul met an elderly American doctor who followed such a master. The doctor invited Paul to come visit the ashram where he lived, and once again the Idaho farm boy found himself with an invitation into a different world. Always eager for something new, Paul accepted and quickly found himself acting as the doctor's assistant.

"I even started to use the knife," Paul says. "The doctor would say, your hands are probably steadier than mine...cut here, cut here. Why I could probably still do an appendectomy!"

But things started to deteriorate quickly, particularly after Paul's first wife-Patricia Bernice Petzoldt-arrived. Paul thought Bernice would be fascinated by the culture and people, but she was much more openly skeptical about their beliefs than he and her skepticism caused friction. Before too long, the pair felt they were wearing out their welcome.

"After my wife got there I was persona non grata by everybody, everybody," Paul says, shaking his head. One evening the tension came to a head. Paul, as he says, lost his cool, and made an openly derogatory comment about the people's beliefs. His remark caused an uproar. Paul found himself wrestling with one of the followers for control of a shotgun he'd been carrying to curb an outbreak of rabid dogs. In the ensuing struggle, he threw the gun out the window, broke away from the hysterical crowd, and rushed out of the building. As he hurried off, he ran into the doctor, who-not knowing what was going on-grabbed Paul. Always a big, strong man, Paul easily pushed the doctor away and left without looking back. The doctor-frail and small-fell to the ground, hit his head, and died.

Paul had no idea that the doctor had even been injured and was shocked when someone came to the bungalow where he and his wife were and informed them of the fatality. An inquest followed but the judge decided there was no reason for a trial and Paul was absolved of any blame. Nonetheless, an English intelligence officer recommended that the couple leave the country.

"They said it would be better if we left because we had just proven all these people around here were liars...they said that murders happen in India all the time and that this was a very powerful organization. So we stayed out of sight, packed up and left," Paul says.

Somehow, time has warped this story. Rumors continue to float around that Paul murdered someone in a duel in India, and although he was let off, he was forced out of the country and told he could never return. Paul shakes his head as I recount these stories. He knows such rumors are out there, but he is hurt by their viciousness and has trouble understanding the source of the malice.

"I don't know where they got the idea that I wasn't allowed back in India. I know it said that in some book... some book that was written by two guys about climbing in the Himalayas. I wrote to one of them and asked where he got that information. He wouldn't tell me. Instead he wrote back apologizing and saying `Please don't sue me.'" Paul sighs. "I don't know what to do about it because the rumor has spread. People think that is why I am not in the alpine club. The reason I am not in the alpine club (the American Alpine Club) is because when I went out west I had no reason to belong. It cost money and I wasn't getting anything out of it."

Today, Paul is a lifetime member in good standing in the American Alpine Club, but the fact that there are still rumors asserting he was ousted bothers him. Paul's sensitivity is somewhat surprising in so outspoken a man. He is notorious among those who worked under him at NOLS for his direct way of handling others. Abruptly firing and then re-hiring instructors for everything from forgetting their ski poles on a course to wearing long hair was his style of management. If you allowed your ego to be bruised by his bombastic rhetoric, your career at the school was limited. Nonetheless, I get the impression that Paul's ego is bruised by people speaking badly of him and the controversy surrounding some of his decisions or actions in the past wounds him.

During my interview with Paul, I found myself drawn into an argument with him over the disposal of human waste in the wilderness that illuminated the brash side of his character for me. I was infuriated by him as we debated the details of cat holes. I felt he tricked me and manipulated the conversation. He seemed argumentative, difficult and unfair. But when I listened to our conversation on tapes later, it dawned on me that Paul was baiting me for the love of the fight, not because he personally wanted to anger me or really wanted to spend time discussing feces. In fact, I think he would be surprised to know how upset I was about the exchange. He says he is not opinionated, that he is a "compromiser." His inflammatory statements are for effect, but he doesn't seem to recognize that the effect can-and has at times-backfire on him.

By the time Paul was back in the United States after his stint in India, the world's political situation had heated up. When war broke out, he started working at the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. with the Lend-Lease Program. Later he joined the 10th Mountain Division, more commonly known as the ski troops. He claims he had a lot of lucky breaks during the war. According to him, he began as a clerk at the Department of Agriculture and ended up heading the Russian part of the Lend-Lease Program. He says he started in the ski troops scrubbing floors and the next thing he knew, he was heading up the training program. I tend to think that it was less luck than talent and brains. Paul seems to have an innate knack for rising to the top regardless of where he finds himself.

When the war ended, Paul headed back to Wyoming where the federal government was giving away land to returning G.I.s. Paul ended up with a parcel near Riverton, Wyo. Here he settled down with Bernice to become a wheat farmer. Conditions were tough for all the homesteaders. It quickly became apparent that the soil, climate and size of the homesteads were incompatible with small-scale wheat farming. The Petzoldts managed to bring in one bumper crop, but the failure of the grain elevator where they took their seed broke them financially. Paul led a coalition of homesteaders back to Washington and negotiated an exchange which gave the G.I.s land in Yuma, Ariz., in return for their pieces in Wyoming. He was pleased with the result of his efforts, but he was also broke and needed to make some cold, hard cash.

Paul had given up the climbing school concession in the Tetons to pursue his career as a farmer. When the farm failed, so did his marriage, and with little to keep him in Wyoming, he headed to the golden land of California to make his fortune as a used car salesman.

"I am not particularly proud of my achievement (as a car salesman), but it was within the law. I probably wasn't as bad as other car can't believe what they were doing, I should write a book about it," Paul says and laughs.

What he did was buy and sell used luxury cars. He says he specialized in high priced vehicles-Cadillacs with white leather upholstery or Lincolns shiny with chrome-which he fixed up and sold using little tricks of the trade that are not allowed these days. His illustrious career as a car salesman lasted until the California Department of Motor Vehicles started cracking down on the laws surrounding the buying and selling of vehicles. By that time, Paul had made enough money to pay back his debts anyway, so he returned to Dubois, Wyo., where he began to run the Ramshorn Inn.

"I made some enemies with other people in Dubois because I was taking business away from the others. I had bartenders do certain things to make people feel welcome. Anytime anyone came in, they had to be enthusiastically greeted by their first name, `Bill, how the hell are you? How are things out at the ranch? I haven't seen you in a while, wonderful to see you, let me buy you a drink.'" Paul acts out the role of the enthusiastic bartender as he recites his tale. You can tell he is an experienced storyteller-his voice changes with the roles he adopts and he skillfully repeats phrases in a rhythmic way. I love listening to him, and smile knowingly when I see the stories repeated in articles using language identical to the language he used with me. Paul knows when he has a good line and is not afraid to reuse it.

In the early 60s, Paul happened upon an article in Time magazine about the new Outward Bound School starting up in Marble, Colo. In the story he ran across the name of an old acquaintance from the ski troops-Tap Tapley. Tap was the chief instructor and general jack of all trades at the new school. Petzoldt who missed the mountains and climbing, decided to get in touch with him and see about a job. The rest is history. Paul acted as chief mountaineering instructor at OB for a couple of seasons, but he was disturbed by the impact the program had on wildlands, and he felt a glaring need for well-trained instructors. The National Outdoor Leadership School grew from these sentiments.

"I had a definite reason for starting NOLS," Paul says adamantly. "I wasn't a way out person, I didn't think that we shouldn't cut a tree...but I was in favor of the wilderness bill. I testified before congress on the wilderness bill...At the same time, here we were at Outward Bound taking people out and...devastating the wilderness. Bad camping, crapping all over...I was dismayed at the ideas kids were getting about how to treat the wilderness."

"At Outward Bound we didn't try to teach them, we didn't go into any depth. That wasn't our purpose...but I thought gosh...we're passing this wilderness bill and they don't know any more in the Sierra Club than we know here....We've got to train people, got to train leaders who can go back and teach people in their community. And I was successful. NOLS has done more than all of the outdoor groups together," he continues.

Tom Warren heard about the new school from a teacher in Riverton, Wyo., where he lived. He'd grown up hunting and fishing in the outdoors, but he was intrigued by the sound of learning to climb and survive in the mountains, so he wrote asking for a scholarship. Paul, sight unseen, accepted Tom and gave him a free ride on the first course. "Of course it was only $300.00 back then," Tom recalls. But that $300.00 loan changed Tom's life. He ended up working for the school for more than ten years and Paul became "like a father to him." Today Tom lives in Driggs, Idaho, where he has a roofing business-Housetop Roofs.

"Paul is an incredibly generous man who would willingly give you the shirt off his back. He is always willing to take a chance with people and with some people he took more than one chance," Tom says. "He knew how to motivate people."

"Paul hit the nail on the head with NOLS," Tom says. "There was a great need for that kind of leadership training. Many of the people who took courses have gone on to be leaders in their fields-astronauts, teachers, etc."

According to Paul, his original goal for NOLS was to train people in both leadership and camping skills that were easy on the land. But when Paul, Tap and Rob Hellyer, also an Outward Bound alum and instructor, moved up to Lander to start NOLS in 1965, no one seemed to know how to enjoy the wilderness without harming it-this in spite of the fact that the Wilderness Act had been in effect for a year and thousands of people were loading up their packs and heading for the mountains. Paul traveled to the government agencies in Washington and to universities across the country in search of research on camping techniques appropriate for the newly designated wilderness lands, but he found nothing.

"The research that was being done was all on what people were doing out there. I said I know what they're doing out there, they're lousing up the joint! There wasn't anything to tell us what to do. Well, I decided we've got NOLS and we can experiment, so we did. We made some bad mistakes, but we worked it out and I haven't seen anything they're talking about now that we hadn't done or advocated by 1973," Paul says with obvious pride.

The excitement of starting a place like NOLS is palpable to me as Paul recounts the story. They could do just about anything they wanted in those days-it was a giant experiment being conducted by a group of passionate, devoted individuals who lived in their trucks, ate food left over from courses, and dressed in army surplus wool. These individuals invented minimum-impact; they created the term expedition behavior; they figured out ways to teach judgment; they introduced co-ed wilderness expeditions; they developed equipment, climbed new routes, and explored unknown areas. Paul's cadre of instructors came from all over-including the roadside. Stories still abound about him picking up hitchhikers and offering them scholarships to take a course. Even in the 60s, when America's youth was rebelling against their elders, white-haired Paul seemed to have a knack for relating to adolescents. Former instructor and co-owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, Nancy Carson attributes this ability to the fact that he respected people and gave them responsibilities regardless of their age and experience.

"He assumed you could drive a stock truck or plan rations for 100 people and he gave you carte blanche to get out there and do it. He trusted you even if you didn't trust yourself, and people rose to that," Nancy says. "Plus he was saying `rules are for fools' and what does an adolescent like better to hear than that?"

"Paul understood a kid's need for adventure. He always said kids will go out and find adventures and most of them are going to be illegal," Nancy continues. "But climbing in the mountains was an adventure. It provided that thrill, that fear...and it was legal."

Nancy was a student-one of the early women at NOLS-in 1967 and then worked for the school in `68 and `69. She remembers her days with Paul fondly and is quick to defend him against the rumors that are linked to his name. She says Paul loved hiking and camping with the women's patrol. I recognize this statement, but the version I have heard has been distorted. Today you hear people say snidely, "Petzoldt always had women around doing his cooking." In Nancy's memory, she cooked for him because that was what she liked to do, and Paul camped with the women because he was thrilled to be out there with them. He was very proud of the fact that NOLS was co-ed. It was something novel and fun for him that had nothing to do with the fact that they prepared his meals. Nancy says Paul let people go with their talents regardless of their gender. For her that meant cooking. But if a woman was a good climber-like Nancy Pallister-Paul encouraged her to climb, and if she was a rider-like Martha Hellyer-he got her out on a horse. The "sexist" twist to his actions is a product of today's mentality imposed on a different time and a different generation in Nancy's opinion. But the rumors are hard to dispel. Perhaps it comes from being a flamboyant character in the limelight-legendary people are often controversial and even today everybody knows some kind of Paul story.

Paul's tenure at NOLS ended abruptly in 1975 when the board removed him from his position as executive director. Paul heard about the change in leadership when a friend from a local bank called up to ask him what was going on. Apparently the board had withdrawn a considerable amount of money from NOLS' account and in the process had informed the banker that Paul was no longer in charge. It was a rude way for him to discover that he was out of a job. But it was more than a job that Paul lost. He says that NOLS was like a child that was stolen from him and his bitterness over that loss is-even now-mixed with his pride about where the school he started has gone.

The details over Paul's removal are muddy. Paul believes the root of his problem with the board stemmed from personal family problems. Others say that Paul was a poor businessman who mixed his money with NOLS money in a way that got the school and its non-profit status into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. Whatever the real reason, the split was dramatic and painful. Many long-standing and talented instructors left the school with Paul and never returned. Traces of anger, distrust and disdain still color the stories about that fateful time in the school's history. Paul vented to me for hours about what he calls "The Big Steal," before saying quietly, "Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I feel better. I have confessed."

"I'm at peace now with NOLS. I suppose if I was looking for an analogy, I'd talk about the Civil War. We're still part of America, but some things are not forgotten, not forgotten in the land of cotton," Paul says with a laugh.

In the long run, Paul recognizes that in spite of the battle that took NOLS from him, his goals when he founded the school continue to dictate its direction and transform the lives of its graduates and staff. He believes that NOLS and WEA are his two most lasting and important contributions to society and the letters in his brag file seem to support that conviction.

Listening to Paul talk about his original ideas for NOLS, I realize how little the school has changed in the ensuing 30 years. Our catalog is slicker, our equipment and vehicles are more reliable, and our hair is shorter, but our philosophy is grounded in the philosophy Paul and his cohorts hammered out in the first 10 years of the school's history-a philosophy which has touched tens of thousands of people through NOLS, WEA and indirectly through Leave No Trace. I think of my own experience as I sit listening to Paul reminisce. He first touched my life when he visited my course in the fateful summer of 1975, 20 years later I still live and work NOLS because I-like so many of my colleagues-truly believe that a NOLS experience makes a difference in people's lives and in the preservation of our wildlands. I am part of Paul's legacy and I am sorry I never got the chance to go camping with him.

Today, Paul's wounds have healed and while scars remain, he has served as president emeritus for NOLS since the late 80s when Jim Ratz, who was a student of Paul's, drew him back into the community. Paul remains a tireless crusader for the principles he established during his life. At 88 he hasn't slowed down. As he says, "Petzoldts are long-lived and I've still got a lot to do."

Molly Absolon has been an instructor since 1987.

More about Paul Petzoldt

Last Mountain Man? Not if He Can Help It by Jane Howard. Life magazine, December 19, 1969.

Old Man of the Mountains Dies at 91: Paul Kiesow Petzoldt, January 16, 1908 - October 6, 1999. NOLS Press Release, October 7, 1999.

"This was a man to match our mountains," by Kerry Brophy. The Leader, Fall 1999.



NOLS Top of Page
NOLS Home About Us Courses Wilderness Medicine Institute NOLS Professional Training Alumni Store Donate Account NOLS Home Parents Press Room School Resources Photos NOLS.TV Events WRMC The NOLS Blog Introduction About Leadership History Mission & Values Profiles Partnerships Frequent Questions Find a Course Skills School Locations School Locations Leave No Trace Financial Aid Academic Credit Find a Course Skills School Locations Course Types Leave No Trace Financial Aid Academic Credit NOLS Pro Home 1-3 Day Courses 7-30 Day Courses Risk Management Staff Clients Design Your Course Contact NOLS Pro NOLS Pro 1-3 Days 7-30 Days Risk Management Clients Contact Us NOLS Pro Design Your Course NOLS Pro Staff Overview Outcome-based Curriculum Faculty Overview Outcome-based Curriculum Faculty Case Studies Overview Administrative Training Staff Training Consulting Conference: WRMC How to Apply Apply Online Download an Application Admission Policies WMI Home About WMI Courses Schedule FAQ Photos & Movies Curriculum Updates Employment Sponsors WMI Home About WMI Admissions Courses Schedule Host a Course Resources Gallery Alumni Home Trips and Events The Leader Alumni Chapters Employment Staying in Touch Volunteer Photos & Videos Home NOLS Photos NOLS.TV The NOLS Podcast NOLS on Flickr Leave No Trace Overview Leave No Trace Principles Leave No Trace Master Educator Courses Host a Course Contact Map of Events Dream Expedition Leadership Week Press Room Images for the Press Archives