Wild Bill – A Jackson Hole Ski Legend, and soul shredder, that will make your soul sing in his presence

Wild Bill in his playground. At almost 64 years old this was the beginning of a 11 hour tour.
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Hey there folks. Jax n’ Lance here to showcase our first of many Jackson Hole legends for the #jh50

He is a Jackson Hole Legend and hero that has more soul, grit and ski talent than any of us know. You will find Bill at the resort daily, and to have the honor of his presence is flat out a special moment you will treasure for a lifetime. Low and behold as you are in the tram line, you might just run upon him … Tall, slender and sporting his sponsor Arcteryx in a full orange kit from head to toe. His long hair and smooth demeanor will either have you intimidated to say hi or want to jump right in and learn more about him. The second you say hello, you are in for an adventure…

We were lucky to meet Bill and his crew; Jason Stiegelmeyer and Ben Janus to enjoy a cup of coffee at The General Store and adventure on at the beginning of their guided tour.

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Bill would describe himself these days as a guy that tips between Wild and Child Bill in a fine balance that sets him dancing among the Tetons whether it be skiing, hiking, running or cave adventures.

Bill was born in Pennsylvania and throughout his life found a way out west and trailed his young passion and love for skiing that started when he was seven. He spent time getting lost hitchhiking to all of the favorite ski gems across the west. Bill spent time living in a hut in Alta and enjoying his first 100 ski day winter there, traveling on to Whistler and many other stops along the way. And then there was this one week vacation in Jackson and his life forever changed. In 1979, Bill made the official move to call Jackson his home.

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Now lets be clear, Bill isn’t just some skier. Bill is the humble guy in the tram line that has favorite lines that send chills down most of our spines such as Monster Bonus, Shady Lady and S&S. In fact, if you are ever around on Feb 18th, you might get lucky and see Bill take his annual Birthday run off into S&S. And his favorite line of all time is Cosmiques Couloir in Chamonix. I urge you to look it up. A high risk run, many risking ALL to enter, and he is here to tell the tale run after run. His favorite mountain in the Tetons: Mt. Moran.

What you might not know about Bill is that he has excellent form and art when he skis but he also has it in his work. Bill came from a very successful career in building solar houses that then lead to an incredible talent to build very authentic and eccentric log houses. He has a very talented knack for woodwork all the way to the skill of building his own skis. There are many log homes around town that he has literally taken apart and re-built into the fabulous homes you see today. His home in Victor is almost completely hand built with beautiful furniture and pieces all sculpted by hand.

Bill is a man that had it all and dropped it all for pure happiness in mind body and spirit. One of Meredith’s favorite quotes of Bill is: “You know Mere, I was a millionaire, and married for 25 years, and now I have nothing, yet, I am the happiest I have ever been.” A man that lives in a small log cabin in Wilson without running water or electricity, just because he lives simple, and likes it that way. Nature, friends and the Tetons calling his spirit awake every day to fly out of bed and enjoy it. You see him glow with love of life as the tram climbs up and he is found hooting and hollering so stoked for the epic, and we mean EPIC adventure ahead.

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And in that very tram ride he said something that really hit me…”You have a mind right. And it can only hold so much in a day. So you have a choice out there of what to fill in it. You can choose to fill it with many pixels on a screen or you can fill it with adventure, friends, the Tetons, exploring caves, discovering fossils on the ground and epic life experiences.” I definitely couldn’t agree more!

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Not fond of TV but he will quickly remind you of Chewbacca with his free spirit and hollars of joy. And an avid fan we might add of Star Wars just shows how cool Bill is to a whole other level. His favorite character has now become Maz Kanata.

There are only a few folks out there that think like Wild Bill. He will even admit that he flutters between the names he has been given of Wild bill and Child bill on a daily basis. Something magical indeed of a balance of a mind that is full of such a free spirit and apt for adventure and enjoying life.

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And most importantly there is his pack. His team and unit that make that life so magical. From friends, family and fans his soul ignites in that presence of those folks that make his daily adventurous dreams come true._B0A1308

 

Often in life, there is talk of soul ties and soul groups. Whether it be a tie from many lives, when one sees another there is an instant connection and that bond ignites again for this lifetime. About 8 years ago on Christmas Day, Bill hopped into a Gondi that little did he know would be a Gondi with a soul mate. On that day, there was a instant soul tie at first sight as he ran into his soul sister, and best friend. He met Meredith Edwards. Right then someone said, “Bill, if you want someone to go ski with that will go anywhere, she is a gal to hang out with.” Meredith, who is a professional skier and ultra runner, also from Pennsylvania that from that day forward became a sister, soul mate and best friend and in many cases the daughter he never had. Though their age may vary by 32 years, their adventures and their instant friendship would not show it. From epic ski tours all over crossing the Tetons over a dozen times, spending a winter in Chamonix, room mates at times even living in a trailer for some years, and ski and trail running mates forever. They often can be found ski touring on something just downright epic or she is taking him out on 21 mile afternoon trail run just to be where they love. It is that kind of bond and friendship where you know more about the person than you can imagine sometimes.

Meredith and Bill on an attempt at the Grand Teton. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards.

Meredith and Bill on an attempt at the Grand Teton. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards.

At times they are Best friends and other times they know each other well enough to keep each other in line. A bond in both cases where their friendship created healing, strength, mental grit and stamina from their past to make their future who they are today. They have bent over backwards for each other many times in life and Bill has been the one to take her to her first 50 Mile running race and even rush her 14 hours to a race and rush her right back to make sure she makes it to work on time. They have an unbreakable bond that they cherish and hope that many others in this lifetime will get to experience with a friend. A lot of Meredith’s path as a professional athlete she attests to her character that has been built through their friendship.

You name an adventure, they have done it. And they will ski until there is not any snow left. They are found chasing snow on many ski tours as late as Fourth of July when the are teamed up with Meredith’s boyfriend Owen Leeper celebrating with turns through the Fourth Of July couloir.

One of Meredith's favorite adventures with Bill on the way to ski 4th of July Couloir on July 4th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards shot by Owen Leeper

One of Meredith’s favorite adventures with Bill on the way to ski 4th of July Couloir on July 4th, 2015. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards shot by Owen Leeper

Meredith would say that the most important thing that Bill has taught her is to never take anything in your life for granted. Whether it is a friend, or experience before you know it, it could be gone. They have an unconditional love and friendship and they continuously gravitate towards each other for support and advice and they have been influential to each other for years. Bill has quickly become a part of Meredith’s family and her family is so glad that Meredith has a fatherly figure over here in the west.

Wild Bill driving Meredith 14 hours to a race and right back in time for work. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards

Wild Bill driving Meredith 14 hours to a race and right back in time for work. Photo courtesy of Meredith Edwards

And to ensure they always keep in touch, you can find them meeting religiously every Saturday for their weekly date at Local enjoying a burger, and fries and then heading over to Lotus for cake. It is their chance for whatever the week may have pulled them into, they can re-group, catch up, laugh and share their experiences.

With Bill, every moment is cherished and he cherishes it back. He appreciates the little things in life, and holds a dear place in his heart for those he loves, his salamander he has had for 20 years, special fossils he has discovered over time and every line he skis._B0A1255

You never know what Bill may be up to. He is the guy in your car immediately dancing to your tunes, loving life, and showing you the beauty of a free spirit. When we finished this interview we would have to say our perspective was to “go forward in the direction of your dreams, and the rest will follow.”

Jax taking a moment after the interview with Bill to reflect on a couple few special hours.

Jax taking a moment after the interview with Bill to reflect on a couple few special hours.

So the next time you are in the tram line and spot Wild Bill, give him a big high 5 and hopefully you will get to experience a slice of his beautiful spirit.

writing: Jax Koudele | Photography: Lance Koudele

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