Fireside Reading: The Man behind the Maps by James Niehues

Book documents the artist’s piste maps over the past 30 years

Fireside Reading: The Man behind the Maps by James Niehues

If you’re a skier or snowboarder then it’s highly likely you’ve held or seen one of James Niehue’s hand-drawn piste maps.

His resort maps have been printed hundreds of millions of times and countless skiers and snowboarders have used them.

Now comes a 300-page book featuring them in glorious detail along with snippets about how he actually paints them; hence the title of the book The Man Behind The Maps.

Man Behind The Maps Breckenridge Snow Country Magazine Spread

Looking through this book will trigger powerful memories of past ski trips

While many of us can’t go skiing or boarding this season, the book is available now for immediate shipping, retails at £67 and will become a cherished, timeless and much-loved addition to the coffee table, letting you pour over memorable runs from the past and start planning for future trips.

There are eight geographically themed chapters with 200 individual resort trail maps, each hand-painted by Niehues. 

Man Behind The Maps Cover 5

It’s a lovely size; 29.21cm tall and opening to a spread of 60.96cm wide

“I have always enjoyed the challenge of fitting an entire mountain on a single page,” says Niehues. “Mountains are wonderful puzzles, and I knew if I painted with the right amount of detail and care, they would last. A good design is relevant for a few years, maybe even a decade. But a well-made map is used for generations.”

James Niehues in his home studio in Parker, Colorado

Niehues’ impact on the ski and snowboard industry is immeasurable. He was recently nominated to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and may well be one of the most widely viewed artists of the 21st century.

The book goes in to detail about how he creates the maps; first with aerial photographs and then he explores the mountain himself before painstakingly illustrating by hand.

James has painted hundreds of trail maps over the past 30 years

Big Sky Resort was chosen to grace the front cover and a foreword was written by big-mountain skier Chris Davenport who says: “Jim has played such a huge role in the development of our sport and there are so many, like me, who have been deeply influenced by Jim and his art. His maps are important, even vital, for everyone whose heart and soul revolves around the sport of skiing.”

The printing production process is very high-end with Italian art-quality printing, heavier weight matte coated paper, lay-flat binding and a beautifully debossed title on both the cover and spine.

To learn more about James Niehues’ story, or to purchase the book visit