4 wheel bob (dir tal skloot, 2017)
The award-winning documentary film 4 Wheel Bob tells the story of Bob Coomber, an intrepid adventurer who sets out to be the first wheelchair hiker to cross the 11,845-foot Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada.
Kearsarge Pass is a classic high approach into the Eastern Sierra, ten miles north of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower forty-eight. The famously steep and prolonged trail to the pass unfolds with Kings Canyon National Park providing the dramatic backdrop. For Bob in his wheelchair, this adventuring is fraught with danger. He must deal continually with altitude sickness and the threat of diabetic coma, not to mention possible fatal or crippling falls in the steep terrain. The path is often blocked with shattered granite, and Bob must turn his wheelchair backward in order to push uphill using only his arms. Going downhill has its own hazards; the trail is narrow, and his wheels often skid on the loose rock. We gain an intimate, foot-by-foot familiarity with Bob’s herculean effort and with some of the most perilous sections of the famous trail.
Away from the Sierra, Bob is an advocate for the disabled in his beloved Northern California. He takes groups who use wheelchairs as well as war veterans on local hikes, teaching about ecology, animal and plant life, and ways to navigate in the wilderness. This story of overcoming immense obstacles will inspire us to look at our own self-imposed limitations and perhaps reach beyond what we think is possible.