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 from the wheelchair-bound community 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.
We've created the 4 Wheel Bob Screening Kit to enhance and deepen your use of the film. It consists of the educational DVD, a public performance license, and a Viewer’s Guide. A printed version of the Discussion Guide is included with all DVD purchases.
— David L. Jaffe
Instructor of Assistive Technology Course,
The film will be an excellent teaching tool in creative writing courses because of its clever shaping of a compelling narrative via spoken words, and in technical filmmaking courses as well as environmental studies programs and programs of disability studies. It touches on a range of crucial policy issues, such as disability accommodations and funding for state and national parks. The many potential educational uses for 4 Wheel Bob pale, however, beside its value as a stand-alone work of meticulous understanding: a fully humane work that moves and instructs us with every image.
— Robert Roper,
Emeritus Professor, The Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Fatal Mountaineer, Now the Drum of War, Nabokov in America and other works in American Cultural Studies