Nightly News | March 15, 2012
>>> you're looking at the weather in california squaw valley . while much of this country is basking in record warmth, skiers are loving the snow which is making for a great spring break for a lot of lucky families on the slopes. which brings us to the the work of an artist whose work you may be familiar with without realizing it. he is one of a kind in ski areas across north america . nbc's kevin tibbles has the story of this monet of the mountains.
>> reporter: if you have ever skied or simply stood awe struck by a mountain's imagestry, you may be familiar with the intricate hand-painted panoramas of jim nieheus.
>> i wanted people to look at the runs and see the different variations of the slopes.
>> reporter: skiers the world over can thank him for never getting lost. his paintings are used as trail maps from here in winter park , colorado, to resorts around the world.
>> jim 's trail maps are as integral to skiing as snow. everyone recognizes his style.
>> reporter: for a quarter century, he has been heading up to where the air is thin and the vistas breath taking. he'll photograph the mountain from the ground and up high before getting down to work. michelangelo got close to heaven painting the ceiling of the sistine chapel . jim neiheus does it.
>> he taught himself to paint as a child when his mother bought him a kit when i was home sick from school.
>> i hope they not only look how they get down, but maybe they'll look and see a little bit of the beauty that's there and stop and admire what they're skiing in.
>> reporter: his fans worry what would happen should he ever hang up his brush.
>> with jim 's maps, each one celebrates the mountains as a piece of art, an organic natural piece of art. i think we lose a little bit of soul when we start only looking at the satellite images.
>> reporter: combining a love of nature and art to help countless skiers chart a course down the mountain. kevin tibbles, nbc news, winter park , colorado.