Ski map artist James Niehues releases 10 sketches, including Vail |

Ski map artist James Niehues releases 10 sketches, including Vail

James Niehues, with the publishing company that released his “The Man Behind the Maps” book, is releasing some seldom-seen sketches, including one of Vail.

James Niehues released his Vail sketch, as well as nine others from American ski resorts.
James Niehues | Special to the Daily

Niehues is the artist responsible for painting many of the ski trail maps we see at resorts today. Open Road Ski Company, the publishing company, was formed specifically to share Niehues’ work, which is still done by hand.

The collection of sketches includes Vail; Breckenridge; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Park City, Utah; Stowe, Vermont; Telluride; Alta, Utah; Snowbird, Utah; Big Sky, Montana and Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.

“The sketch is the cornerstone to providing the best configuration of a resort’s slopes, and it’s where the composition for the final painted view comes to life,” Niehues said. “A ski map is first and foremost an accurate representation to guide the skier around the mountain — but it’s also how the trees, rocks, slopes and topography all converge into a beautiful scene.”

To that point, Niehues often photographs mountains from different angles, including above by way of airplanes.

“We’ve always been amazed at the beauty and detail of the black and white sketches,” said Todd Bennet, co-founder of the Open Road Ski Company. “It’s something we touch on in the “The Man Behind the Maps” book, but they’re impressive enough to deserve their own prints. So that’s just what we’ve done.”

To view the sketches and purchase prints, available in four sizes, visit

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