Man Behind The Maps: the ultimate coffee table book for powderhounds

by James Wilkinson

Looking for the ultimate gift for powderhounds this festive season? Look no further than the sensational coffee table book​ The Man Behind the Maps from legendary American ski artist, James Niehues.

The culmination of his lifelong work and passion for the mountains, this art-quality book, published in tandem with ​Open Road Ski Company​, is a compilation of more than 200 individual resort trail maps, each hand-painted by Niehues.

With eight geographically themed chapters, this hardcover coffee table book is the first and definitive collection of the art created by Niehues during his 30-year career.

Niehues’ impact on the ski and snowboard industry is immeasurable. Throughout the years, he has helped countless skiers and snowboarders navigate down the snow-covered slopes of resorts across North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Recently nominated to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, Niehues may be the most established mountain guide in winter sports history, along with one of the most widely viewed artists of the 21st century, as his maps have been printed hundreds of millions.

In a modern digital age, Niehues may very well be the last of the great mapmakers. The nearly 300-page book showcases his exacting process in which he first captures aerial shots and then explores the mountain himself before pain-stakingly illustrating every run, chairlift, tree and cliff band by hand.

There’s a reason why most trail maps in use today have a similar look and feel because James has painted over 200 of them during the course of his lifetime.

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of fitting an entire mountain on a single page. Mountains are wonderful puzzles, and I knew if I painted with the right amount of detail and care, they would last,” said Niehues.

“A good design is relevant for a few years, maybe even a decade. But a well-made map is used for generations.”

With ​Big Sky Resort​ chosen to grace its cover and a foreword penned by pioneering big-mountain skier Chris Davenport, the visually-stunning compilation includes trail maps from iconic destinations such as Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley, Alta, Snowbird, Aspen Highlands and Vail.

The book is 11.5-inches tall and opens to a spread of 24-inches wide, the perfect size to showcase the biggest ski mountains in the world.

Every detail was taken into consideration during the printing production process: Italian art-quality printing, heavier weight matte coated paper, lay-flat binding and a beautifully debossed title on both the cover and spine.

Get your copy from James Niehues’ website, j​