Jon Reveal, former Aspen Skiing Co. executive and lifelong skier, dies at 77
Reveal headed Snowmass, Aspen Mtn. and Buttermilk during tenure at Skico
Jon Reveal, a former Aspen Skiing Co. executive who worked 55 years at various ski resorts, died unexpectedly Thursday after finishing a day at work at Tamarack Resort in Idaho.
Reveal’s wife, Kim Waltrip, said an autopsy this week will determine the cause of his death. Reveal, 77, was in excellent shape and received a “clean bill of health” in a heart stress test three months ago, she said. He died after working a full day and heading to his vehicle.
“He’s a legend,” Waltrip said. “He’s known all over the world.”
Reveal played a key role in bringing Snowmass Ski Area into the modern era while he was the mountain manager there from 1984 to 1988. He oversaw the installation of the first high-speed quad chairlifts at the ski area.
He went on to become the Aspen Mountain manager in 1988-89, then was promoted to general manager of Aspen Mountain and Buttermilk from 1989 to 1992. He was Skico’s vice president of operations from 1992 to 1996.
Earlier in his career, Reveal worked for several years to help build Keystone into a leading resort in Colorado. For much of that time, he worked with Bob Maynard, who became president and CEO of Aspen Skiing Co. in 1986. Once the men were reunited, Reveal marched up the career ladder at Skico, gaining responsibilities over the years. Both men left Skico in 1996.
Reveal continued his career in the ski industry by joining Mont Sainte Anne Resort as president in 1997. He joined the new Yellowstone Club in 1998 and was part of the team that designed, built and operated a successful operation.
“Jon was a friend to all who crossed his path and an endless worker, usually the first one to work and the last one to leave,” said an obituary distributed by Reveal’s family. “The joy and passion he had for skiing and recreating in the mountains was contagious.”
Reveal most recently worked at Tamarack Resort as president from 2018 to 2020 and director of sports the past two years. He led the sports school that was named in his honor.
It’s obvious that Reveal treasured his time in Aspen. The first part of his email address was ZGSKI.
“He was proud of that,” Waltrip said.
She said her husband loved the freedom of being on ski slopes and he enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for skiing with other people. He started skiing at age 3 while growing up in California.
“He said he felt more comfortable on skis than in shoes,” she said.
Reveal had a smile on his face when he was on the slopes and he did everything he could as a ski industry executive to get that same smile on customers’ faces, Waltrip said.
Reveal was working at Courchevel, France, in 1969 when he met legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller.
“Warren realized this man could ski the guts out of the mountains,” Waltrip said, noting that Jon could also speak French and help during filming. Reveal went on to ski in 15 of Miller’s iconic films. Waltrip said Reveal considered Miller a mentor as well as a friend.
Reveal was also a ski racing fanatic from an early age and raced throughout the western U.S., meeting a lot of people. He was a good friend with racer Spider Sabich, who was fatally shot at age 31 in Aspen on March 21, 1976. Reveal planned to attend the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame induction celebration for Sabich in Snowmass Village in April. The event will feature a new film, “Spider Lives,” that traces his skiing career.
When asked what traits she will remember best about Jon, Waltrip said, “The fact that he was the most positive man on the planet. He would never say a bad word about anyone.”
She also said he genuinely wanted customers to enjoy their experiences at the resorts where he worked over the years. She recalled one time he scraped the ice off a vehicle at Tamarack after a storm blew in during the day. The owners came by as he was scraping and he simply said he worked there and saw ice had built up on their windshield.
Former Skico executive John Norton worked with Reveal in the 1990s and remembers him as a perfectionist and “a beautiful skier.”
“He was the kind of skier you wanted to watch,” he said.
Reveal’s obituary said he was the first American certified by France’s Ecole de Ski, the largest ski school in the world.
Reveal was also a climber on the American Everest West Ridge Expedition in 1983. The goal of the 17-member team was a self-contained ascent of the complete west ridge of Mount Everest. They undertook the ascent without Sherpas or oxygen. Snowstorms created conditions that prevented them from reaching the summit after topping 24,000 feet.
In addition to Waltrip, Reveal is survived by his sons Michael (wife, Casarae) and Stefan (wife, Sara), his stepson Griffin Wade, and four grandchildren. Both sons live in Aspen. Stefan is the senior vice president of Alpine Bank. Michael is a ski pro at Snowmass.
“The family will have a small private funeral service in Idaho and, as Jon did not wish to have a memorial, he would have loved that his friends and all those who knew and remembered him go out and ski their favorite mountain in his honor,” his obituary states.