Who Drew Your Ski Map? Probably James Nieheus.

by Greg Colquitt | April 26, 2018

Ever noticed that most of the ski maps you’ve scoured for information all kind of look the same?

Well, there’s a reason for that.
Since 1987, James Niehues has been painting iconic ski maps for resorts (and your pocket) all across the country and world. His first? Winter Park Resort in Colorado, which was then quickly followed by Vail Resorts and a slew of resorts from California’s Boreal Mountain and Squaw Valley, to New Zealand and China.

New Maps for Copper Mountain

Yet as Niehues continues to inch into his 70’s with over 200 maps under his belt, he’s still willing to take on new projects. With the addition of two new chair lifts at Copper Mountain this summer, Niehues was called upon again to design a new map. He had this to say on Facebook :

Copper Mountain: In 1995 I produced two trail map images for Copper. The Main view and the Back View, or Copper Bowl. New images are being painted for the 2018/19 season. I am really excited about this opportunity to portray this Mountain 23 years later. I gave them two sets of thumbnail sketches as options to show their Mountain. Here is the selected set. Keep in mind that the only purpose of a thumbnail is to select an overall perspective. Many fine features of the slopes will change as I get into it and study the aerials. The Village and I-70 will fall into place during the comprehensive sketch, the next step.
-James Nieheus’ Facebook post April 19, 2018



How It’s Made

In order to paint with such accuracy, Niehues turns to his resources in the sky for reference. Using a collection of aerial photographs from his own helicopter/airplane flyovers, the mountain’s photographs, and, increasingly, Google Earth, he is able to construct a accurate and artistic interpretation of our favorite hills.
Facebook continues to give us a unique play-by-play into the process of building such intricate and beautiful maps.

Copper Mountain: The Horizon and resolution lift area are complete. In the second photo you can see the aerials I am working from,different close-ups for different parts of the mountain. I also had other photos from different perspectives to look into the Spaulding Bowl. I took these aerials when I first painted Copper Mountain in 1995 so I check current googleEarth images for new cuts, tree removal, or new lift alignment. I will get new aerials of the village and base facilities.
-James Nieheus Facebook post April 24, 2018

Is Your Mountain’s Map a Nieheus Map?

Chances are, yes. Examples of his other maps include the following:

  • Bretton Woods, NH
  • Jay Peak, VT
  • Cataloochee, NC
  • Alta, UT
  • Crested Butte, CO
  • Alyeska, AK
  • Big Sky, MT
  • Crystal Mountain, WA
  • and a lot more…

For a full collection of everything he has made, be sure to check out his website

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