Open Road Ski Company. Plan less, travel more.
In February 2017, — a group of 40ish-year-old guys — had just arrived at Tamarack Ski Resort, a small, little-known ski area in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in Idaho. We were nearing the end of our yearly ski trip, a weeklong adventure that involved flying into one airport (in this case, Salt Lake City) and out of another (in this case, Whistler), spending the days chasing the best powder we could find between those two points. We had already skied Snowbird, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain and Targhee, and then, when we should have been making strong progress toward Whistler, we returned to Snowbird, unable to resist the siren’s call of a forecast for a fresh 20-24 inches of snow in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
With little time left before we were to meet our wives and other friends in British Columbia, we pointed the car north and drove toward Boise. There, over breakfast at a Best Western, we noticed Tamarack Ski Resort on the map. None of us had heard of it, but we decided to give it a try.
We found a ski resort frozen in time, a resort marked by the remnants of failed construction from an attempt to reinvent itself in 2008. But there were runs and there was snow, so we took a look at the trail map to orient ourselves. The layout was simple: two main lifts that took skiers to the top and a smaller lift that served a batch of partially constructed homes and condos. What caught my attention, though, wasn’t so much the details of the resort, but the map’s style and the signature in the bottom-right corner of the map. The name was James Niehues.
Wait a second, we thought. We have seen this signature before. And then it hit us: Nearly every ski map we have ever seen had this same style and feel. We pulled out our phones and searched his name.
No way. One guy? All of them? That’s right. Big and small. From the Rockies to the Alps, from Chile to Australia.
We needed to know more, to know just who James Niehues is and how he does what he does. We sought Jim out and are honored to have worked with him and so many other talented people on a book celebrating his craft - The Man Behind The Maps: Legendary Ski Artist James Niehues.