Paul Kiesow Petzoldt (January 16, 1908 – October 6, 1999) was one of America's most accomplished mountaineers. He is perhaps best known for establishing the National Outdoor Leadership School in 1965. Paul made his first ascent of the Grand Teton in 1924 at the age of 16, becoming the youngest person at the time to have done so. In 1938 Paul Petzoldt was a member of the first American team to attempt a climb on K2. For the climb he did not use assisted oxygen, he learned to use rhythmic breathing. He and Dan Bryant, from New Zealand, were the first climbers ever to traverse the Matterhorn twice in one day.
Unfortunately, Petzoldt was forced to leave India under a cloud in 1939, following his direct part in the killing of fellow American, Dr. Julian P. M. Johnson, the writer famous for descriptions of the Sant Mat spiritual path, based in the Punjab at Beas. Johnson`s books include "The Path of the Masters," and "With a Great Master in India."
During World War II Petzoldt served in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division fighting on the Italian Front.
Petzoldt's other accomplishments in the outdoors are also considered major advances among wilderness enthusiasts. Before the establishment of NOLS, he had a hand in creating a Colorado addition to the Outward Bound program as well as the first guide service in the Tetons. Noted in his introduction to The New Wilderness Handbook, his experience in NOLS, Outward Bound and love of the wilderness, evolved into the Wilderness Education Association. WEA courses, certification and knowledge are still helping many advocates of the environment learn ways to have low-impact adventures in the environment.