Retiree completes feat of 2 million feet
Next weekend Parkite Bill Witz will celebrate his 67th birthday, but he has already had his cake.
His sweet reward came last week when his group of buddies came together to celebrate the accomplishment of his goal for the ski season to ski two million vertical feet.
"I put my foot in my mouth," laughed Witz. "I said, ‘I think I can get two million feet this year.’ That’s how it ended up."
Witz decided to complete his feat at Deer Valley since his residence there allows him to ski in and ski out, but he didn’t limit himself to his own backyard. In the weeks leading up to his accomplishment, he skied in Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole, Wyo. skiing about 75,000 feet.
Then, on March 28,he finished up the last couple of thousand feet with all of his buddies surrounding him on the mountain.
Unfortunately, two runs later, he skied into some trees and broke his tibia. But neither injury, nor anything else has ever held Witz back.
Witz is not your average grandpa. Since retiring from his self-owned electrical contracting business in his native Chicago, Witz has been filling his time with what one might call "extreme retirement." Winters are spent skiing the backcountry, bumps and any other terrain deemed "difficult." In the summer he can be found anywhere in the world — rafting rivers, scuba diving and making friends with the locals.
Witz moved to the Park City area nearly a decade ago after buying back his homegrown business from a public company so that his children could take it over. After buying some Park City property, he began to look for things to fill his time. He immediately made friends at the country club and local watering hole, who shared his love for adventure. He had skied for years on vacations and decided that if he was going to do it full time, it should be challenging.
"It’s like any exercise," Witz said. "If you don’t have a goal, you won’t do it."
Witz’ "exercise" soon became between 25,000 and 30,000 vertical feet skied per day.
He skis with guys slightly younger, because he can’t seem to find people his age up for that of mileage and terrain.
"We don’t ski the groomed stuff," Witz said.
He also rarely allows himself to rest during the day.
"We don’t stop for lunch or coffee," Witz said. "If I stopped, my skiing day would be over."
Witz has always had the heart of adventurer. For the last 30 or more years, he has gathered college and social friends to discover explore the globe. He estimates he has been on almost every river in the world and rafted the Colorado almost 20 times. He went on a gorilla trek in Uganda last year.
His lifestyle has not only allowed him to try about every experience open to him, but has also allowed him a build a social network that spans the globe. He knows river guides, ski instructors, owners of rafting companies anyone that he comes in contact with is a potential friend.
"That’s part of the whole thing," Witz said. "I meet people everywhere. If you go somewhere, if it is someone I like I say, ‘Let’s go somewhere and do something.’"
In Park City, Witz says he has made more friends in the last few years than a lifetime of living in Chicago.
"They accept my friends and my family," Witz said.
And family is the main reason Witz maintains his lifestyle. A divorce early in life meant he was often raising his family on his own and he hopes his adventuring spirit serves as an inspiration to his children, grandkids and generations to come to stay active and curious. All but one son-in-law skis and his oldest son has moved to Park City.
His family travels around the world with him, and he says they all participate in the different activities.
"They all work together," Witz said. "That’s my greatest accomplishment. My kids are the best."
Witz hopes to be back on the adventure trail soon. His doctors say his leg should be healed mid-May just in time for his next scuba-diving expedition.
"The timing [for the injury] was good," Witz said with a smile.
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Deputies found Baird’s vehicle at a trailhead in the Sawtooth National Forest about 20 miles northwest of Ketchum.