On Belay!: The Life of Legendary Mountaineer Paul Petzoldt

Raye C. Ringholz, Author Mountaineers Books $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-89886-558-5
Petzoldt, now 90, climbed Wyoming's Grand Teton when he was 16, and by age 21 had his own guiding concession. Famous for exploits such as traversing the Matterhorn twice in one day and scaling K2 in the Himalayas, he is also a renowned climbing instructor, the originator of an innovative voice-signal system and a promoter of wilderness ethics. Ringholz, who collaborated with Petzoldt on The Wilderness Handbook, bases her laudatory biography on 30 years of taped interviews, successfully incorporating Petzoldt's voice into the narrative as he tells the story of his varied adventures, which included riding freight cars as a young man, a year studying with the dean of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and an unsatisfying month on a commune in India. Often surrounded by controversy, Petzoldt was accused and acquitted of manslaughter in India and denounced for unethical business conduct when he headed the National Outdoor Leadership School. Ringholz shows that he has always been more interested in independence than in money. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998
Release date: 02/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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