Paul Petzoldt’s Films of NOLS in the 60s

Paul Petzoldt (1908 – 1999) grew up in southern Idaho, and at the age of 16, made his first ascent of Wyoming’s Grand Teton wearing cowboy boots. He soon recognized the need to have better training and better preparation, and in the early 1930s, started the first guide concession in Grand Teton National Park.

In 1963, after years of developing mountaineering techniques, Paul Petzold testified before Congress in favor of the Wilderness Act. That same year, he helped establish the first American Outward Bound program in Colorado.

Two years later, in 1965, Petzoldt founded the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. NOLS is the leading nonprofit outdoor education school, with more than 120,000 alumni. NOLS has 14 locations around the world and educates more than 3,000 students annually.

The video after the jump was found “deep in the archives next to PPWE sleeping bags and under the wool knickers” by NOLS, who had their interns clean it up. Holy hell is it wonderful. Beautiful shots, wonderful narration by Petzoldt and some fine, fine musical accompaniment. One of the best things I’ve seen in a long while.



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13 Responses to Paul Petzoldt’s Films of NOLS in the 60s

  1. William Roth May 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    I am currently sitting at NOLS HQ in Lander, Wyoming next to the interns who “dusted off” that video. There is so much good archival footage out there. I wish we could get more of it up. There is an old PBS documentary called “30 Days To Survival” that follows along with Paul and a course in the 60s. Classis stuff.

  2. Mark Wales May 19, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    That was amazing! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    William – You guys need to ‘dust off’ some more footage! I’d love to see it! Where can I see the PBS documentary??


  3. Peter Buchanan-Smith May 19, 2010 at 7:22 am #

    AMAZING. I’m telling everyone about this. We need Paul more than ever!

  4. John May 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

    Nice one

  5. jeff May 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    in your short biography of PP, you didn’t mention that he enlisted in the original 10th Mountain Division of the US Army, an elite division of the military that specialized in high mountain technical skills that not only helped defeat the evildoers in WWII, but gave rise to the modern recreational skiing industry! its quite the story. check out the movie “Fire on the Mountain”…

  6. Albert Mitugo December 9, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    That is awesome!! Thanks.

  7. Geoff Heath December 10, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    Thirty Days to Survival was not a PBS documentary. It was made by Michael Wadliegh, same man who made the Woodstock film and the same summer; 1969. The film was presented in January on NBC’s Alcoa hour. NOLS went from obscurity, (less than 300 students a year) to mainstream over night. This film paralleled and inspired a national interest in the outdoors. Before it kids didn’t carry their books to school in back packs or wear down jackets. I know, I was there.

  8. Greg Simmons December 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    As a student of Paul’s in Marble, CO in 1964 and the first NOLS course it was great to hear his voice again. A voice talking about the life and outdoors that he loved. I am thankful this piece exits!

  9. Nick Renold December 11, 2010 at 1:07 am #

    Wow, this is some timeless footage. Glad to see us kids looked about the same when camping even 40 years ago. Especially at 14:14 – it looks like somebody lost their spoon, because they are eating honey off of a piton!!

  10. Alfredo December 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Wow, absolutely amazing. Knowing all that Paul Petzoldt represents, it is fantastic to hear his voice narrating this film.
    Now I am eager to see “Thirty Days to Survival”!
    In any case, I will be sharing this film with many of my friends.
    Many thanks to the NOLS folks who located the film, to the interns who dusted it off and digitized it, and to Cold Splinters for hosting it.

  11. ženske torbice March 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to generate a really good article� but what can I say� I hesitate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.


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