When Bill Klien, who would transform skiing himself, invited Hannes Schroll to Donner Summit from Yosemite in 1937, the ski industry was about to change. Hannes was a dare-devil champion skier whose yodels as he tore down mountains could be heard for long distances. He was enthusiastic when he saw the Sugar Bowl. "We have to develop this," he said. The "Sugar Bowl" is perfect for skiing.
His family money disappeared just as he was talking to his mother about sending it from Austria so he could buy the land. It was the Anschlus and Hitler has taken charge of Austria and Hannes' money. Hannes turned to his Yosemite friends and they in turn turned to their friends and Sugar Bowl, the first California ski area built as a destination resort, was built. It included the first chairlift in the state and the second in the nation. The single seater (as opposed to the quads of today) ran to the top of Mt. Disney (3200 feet) in 6 minutes (today's quad takes 3 minutes). There was a lodge designed by a famous architect, rope tows, a skating rink, and ski jouring. Skiers arrived by train and were transported to the Bowl first by horse drawn and then by tractor drawn sleighs.
A Good Story
Hannes Schroll was larger than life. At the 1936 Mt. Rainier Olympic Trials, "I heard a yell high above me... like an eagle swooping down on a rabbit (it was) Hannes Schroll... yodeling at the top of his lungs! He jumped the first terrace like a deer going over a rail fence. Then he jumped another - and landed on one ski. His body was leaning over like an open jack-knife, and he was swinging his ski poles to keep from somersaulting. He must have skidded a quarter mile on that one ski, whooping and yelling all the time. As he passed me, his hat sailed through the air, and he whopped even louder(,) he was that glad to get (h)is skis back on the snow. Before he stopped, he'(d) passed No. 42, who has taken off ten minutes before." Rotarian 2/1936
Walt Disney was an initial investor in Sugar Bowl. One day his daughter wanted to ski. Hannes took her up Mt. Dinsey, put her on his shoulders, and skied all the way down.
Things to do right here
Take the road into Sugar Bowl where the sign says Judah Lodge. Come in for refreshment at the bar or have a meal in the historic Lodge at Sugar Bowl (built in 1939). The food is great and the historical pictures are interesting. Find out about the lodge, William Wilson Wurster the architect, and how the wagon trains climbed over Donner Summit on Roller Pass.