We met Bob Coomber at the Abilities Expo recently and were amazed by what he has accomplished personally but also professionally.
Bob was recently elected to the Livermore City Council where he has lived for the past 30 years. An avid hiker, his physical challenges began to affect him when he developed juvenile diabetes that was unknowingly causing bone density issues. This led to multiple breaks of his ankles just from bearing weight and by early 1990s, he was in a wheelchair and faced with figuring out how to adapt.
4 Wheel Bob (2016, 72 minutes, produced and directed by Tal Skloot) tells the story of Bob who sets out to be the first wheelchair hiker to cross the 11,845-foot Kearsarge Pass in the Sierra Nevada. You can view the trailer for the film HERE.
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. The film is screening nationally and internationally at more than 12 festivals around the world including upcoming events in Toronto, Canada, and Tegernsee, Germany.
The showing will take place at the Osio Theatre at 350 Alvarado St., Monterey. Showtimes will be posted at THIS LINK. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for students and seniors. Following the conclusion of the Nov. 17th showing, a post-film Q&A with the director, Tal Skloot, and the subject of the film, Bob Coomber. will take place.