Fine early Hal Shelton Poster, promoting Vail, Colorado.
Iconic promotional poster of Vail, published shortly after the addition of Gondola #2.
The top image is a large traditional trail map, identifying ski lifts, trails, bowls, etc. with the village of Vail at the base. A second smaller image is centered on High Noon ridge and a single lift servicing a number of open bowls. Each of the views were painted by pioneering American ski artist Hal Shelton:
“The first notable ski map artist in North America was a California native named Hal Shelton, born in 1916. During his early career Shelton worked as a cartographer for the U.S. Geological Survey, and is known for his innovative ideas regarding natural color maps and contour shading (Patterson & Kelso 2004). By the early 1960s Shelton was an established cartographer living in Colorado at the epicenter of the ski resort construction frenzy. Shelton’s professional training in cartography, user-friendly mapping techniques, and ideal location in Colorado provided him with the perfect credentials to create impressive maps for the new resorts…. Shelton hand-painted panoramas for several world-class resorts including Bear Valley, Alta, and Mammoth…. His paintings are characterized by a realistic color palette, thick brushstrokes for background features, and individually painted trees in the foreground…. Shelton’s work was well-received, and he dominated the ski mapping industry in the western United States for much of the 1960s and 70s.” (Lippus, pp. 50-51)
This poster was issued as part of Vail's membership in Colorado Ski Country USA, a non-profit promotional cohort formed in in 1965.
Shelton is credited as one of the inventors of the modern ski area trail map. An avid skier and trained cartographer, Shelton pioneered the use of the shaded relief map in depicting ski trails.
Shelton earned a degree in Scientific Illustration from Pomona College, before joining the US Geological Survey during World War II. After the War, he settled in Golden, Colorado. Shelton has been referred to a "cartographic populist . . .[who] thought existing map symbology was too abstract for general audiences, so he began experimenting with natural-color maps [indicating] topography with subtle terrain shading."
Shelton produced maps for airlines, classrooms and textbooks, before being discovered by the ski industry. Ultimately, he would produce the first "modern" trail maps for Alta, Jackson Hole, Aspen, Mammoth Mountain, Winter Park, Sun Valley, Purgatory, Waterville Valley and many others. One of his most famous works is an imaginary view of all of the Colorado Mountains and ski areas from 100,000 feet above Denver.