A Pioneering Vision Born And Bred In The Sierra

Steeped in tradition and rich in history, Sugar Bowl Resort has been providing some of the finest skiing & riding in the region since 1939. Since our original investors showed up first, they had first pickā€¦and chose the best location for an alpine resort on Donner Summit.

A Brief History Of Sugar Bowl

A yodeling ski fanatic from Austria name Hannes Schroll first laid eyes on Mt Lincoln on July 4, 1937. Schroll took one look at the still remaining 30 foot base of snow and immediately began plotting places for lifts and runs. He was later quoted as saying, "When I saw the bowl at the foot of Mount Lincoln, I decided that was the place." The perfect place to build his dream Austrian style resort.

With all his money tied up in a then occupied Austria, Schroll sought out investors for his newly planned resort. Schroll had taught some of California's most wealthy and influential families how to ski. One of his most famous clients was Walt Disney. With little convincing from Schroll, Disney invested the now seemingly small sum of $2500 and in turn his name was stamped on the peak that would become home to the first chairlift in California.

On October 13, 1938, Sugar Bowl Corporation was officially formed and together theinvestors purchased the 700 acres that would soon become the Village of Sugar Bowl Resort. Construction of the new Disney chairlift and the planned Bavarian style lodge began in the summer of 1939.

Sugar Bowl Resort officially opened for the first time on December 15, 1939. There was very little snow on the ground the first month of operations so skiing was a bit of an adventure as skiers dodged willows and rocks on the way down Disney. Several stockholders got together and built the Hans Brinker ice rink which kept guests entertained until the first blizzard of the season struck on January 4, 1940.

The new snow brought skiers to the resort by the trainload. Southern Pacific's "Snowball Special" saw train patronage jump significantly during the resort's first season. Visitors got off the trains in the newly built Norden snowsheds and were then loaded onto tractor-drawn sleds where they made the mile and a quarter trip to the resort.

California's first chairlift drew large crowds that first season. The ride to the top of Mt Disney was six and a half minutes and cost riders 25 cents or $2 if skiing. Sugar Bowl also attracted the attention of Hollywood right away. The likes of Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn, Norma Shearer, Claudette Colbert and many others enjoyed the resort's picturesque slopes and European feel. In 1946, Norma Shearer saw a photograph of the then desk clerk's daughter and decided the girl should be in movies. Thus was born the career of Janet Leigh.

World War II stopped the resort's operations for three years as the railroad routes were overrun with military transports and fears of railroad sabotage. Many of the top skiers and ski instructors joined the 87th Infantry Division and subsequently the 10th Mountain Division.

In the fall of 1945, Scroll hired miners from nearby Nevada City to repair damage sustained by the lift and it's top terminal during the previous 3 winters of inactivity. By Christmas of 1945, Sugar Bowl was ready to reopen.

For the next several years, Sugar Bowl enjoyed the country's journey back to normal after the Great Depression and World War. People came in droves to Bill Klein's new ski school, eager to join in the fun on the mountain. The Silver Belt Race resumed along with the California State Championship held on Mount Lincoln.

In 1953, a man named Jerome Hill came up with the long needed solution to the resort's slow transport from Highway 40 to the Village. Jerome suggested building a gondola that could transport people and goods in and out of the resort year round. Sugar Bowl offered the land and Hill financed the first gondola on the west coast.

In 1963 Sugar Bowl was featured in Warren Miller's annual ski movie, The Color of Skiing, showing off the resort's attributes to audiences across the nation. As a result, Sugar Bowl enjoyed many new visitors to the slopes, many of whom became Sugar Bowl loyalists for years to come.

In 1964, Interstate 80 opened and spanned the expanse of Donner Summit, helping to make Sugar Bowl the most conveniently accessed ski resorts in all of Tahoe, with Bay Area and Sacramento families enjoying a simple, fast and maintained road from home to Sugar Bowl.

Enjoying healthy ski years through the 70's and 80's, Sugar Bowl employed an aggressive capital improvement plan, beginning in 1992 with the Judah Lodge and Judah parking lot, allowing day skiers and riders to bypass the Magic Carpet gondola and enjoy hundreds of free slopeside parking spots just steps from the lifts, and a full-service day lodge with all the amenities included.

In 1999 the Sugar Bowl Academy was formed by Tricia Hellman Gibbs, giving student athletes the opportunity to train and study in a world-class facility.

The famed Silver Belt Race, once the preeminent downhill race alongside Sun Valley and Aspen's similar events, was revived in 2004 with a modern twist, adding ski-cross style and big mountain freeriding elements, later fine-tuned by Resort Ambassador and 3-time Olympian Daron Rahlves into the Rahlves' Banzai Tour, stopping at three other Tahoe resorts but still ending at Sugar Bowl, where it all began.

With a rich history and storied past in place, Sugar Bowl looks toward a bright future, including $7 million in capital improvement projects, including the Crow's Peak Chairlift, the SportHaus fitness and aquatic center, the New Sugar Bowl Academy, and a renovated first floor lobby for the historic lodge at Sugar Bowl.

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