The end of the ski slope map?

Even at Mad River Glen, Vermont (where the original single chair was replaced with a single when an upgrade was needed), a QR code on signs around the mountain leads skiers to a map on the website to reduce paper. waste, spokesman Ry Young said. The resort still offers paper maps; a recent overhaul, in fact, was Mr. Niehues’ last major project.

Mr Niehues, who retired last year, said his maps are not just about “guiding you on the mountain, but showing you its potential and what it offers”. To convey this, he created three-dimensional scenes with meticulously rendered detail. “I really kept the skiers in mind and tried to make it as realistic as possible,” he added. “I always thought it was important to show the terrain, the surroundings, the trees.”

These works of art, whether by Mr. Niehues or others, often survive a ski vacation, turning into a keepsake that allows you to study the mountain more on days when you wish you were still there or even compare the changes over the years in a favorite station. That’s why an avid skier like Stuart Winchester has a drawer full of hundreds of cards — he’s even decorated his Brooklyn laundry room with a few dozen of them.

“I like the physical map of the slopes as a token of your ski day,” said Mr. Winchester, director of internal communications at ViacomCBS, which also manages the Storm Skiing newsletter and podcast on resort trends and their impact. on skiers.

But, as apps offer an increasingly sophisticated level of functionality, their value for tech-savvy skiers is undeniable. For example, Powdr launched a feature last winter in Killington, Vermont and Snowbird that shows skiers where they and their friends are on the mountain in real time; Mt. Bachelor added the feature for this season. Vail’s comprehensive EpicMix app now includes a daily forecast of lift wait times at 12 of the company’s resorts for better planning upfront.

One particularly intriguing piece of equipment comes from Lumiplan, a French company that makes signs and apps for ski areas; it’s developing an interactive daily route option that company executive vice president Julien Chassagne has called “the future of the trail map.” Say you want to spend a day skiing as many intermediate mogul runs as possible, have lunch at a certain restaurant, and then end up at a particular base area – enter those preferences into the app and it’ll provide you with a game plan. The feature is currently being tested in Serre Chevalier, a ski area in the French Alps.

But it’s probably too soon to call the actual death of the traditional pocket map, said Garry Milliken, a graphic designer who creates maps that can be printed or reproduced digitally through his New York-based company, VistaMap. “The good old-fashioned trail map is still a primary source of information,” he said. He has seen technology approaches come and go over his 30 years in the business and emphasizes ease of use “being able to read and hold something in your hand regardless of the temperature or time”.

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