Taking the Hill

Courtesy of Shaun Darwood on Unsplash

What a slug-fest!

Getting down was the easy part.

We took a trip in our vehicle one cold, sunny afternoon in the spring-time; our journey took us to the bottom of a rather steep hill.

I should have known better!

The road was covered in a thick slurry of ice and snow from the tail-end of winter.

Everything was fine… until we attempted to head back up the hill.

Then the fun began. We were moving, but in the wrong direction!

Picture a skating rink. On a slope. Covered in five-thousand slushies.

Then throw in some icy grey muck just for fun.

Instead of making it back up the hill we managed pile into a fence!

We had no other option but to sink lower and lower down this slippery hill, until the side of our vehicle was nuzzled up next to the fence rails.

What fun.

The afternoon was getting on and a storm was moving in.

A Fight to the Bottom

What next? How do we get back up this treacherous hill?

We do not want to call a tow truck, so what are our options?

Perhaps we wedge some tree branches under the tires?


Not even with all-wheel-drive in the locked position?

Still nope.


What about sticking the floor mats under the rear tires?

Watch out! One just came shooting out the back.

What if… we go backwards to go forwards?

At least until we are turned around?

First let’s get rid of this gate post which I partially knocked over.

Luckily I had a saw to get rid of the jagged parts.

Now let’s try backing up.

With one of us pushing and the other at the wheel we managed to back up!

Progress, but in the wrong direction.

At least the vehicle is now pointing up the hill!

Turning Point

As luck would have it we find several large pieces of wood close by.

Let’s start with the plywood, it is easier to position close to the tires.

Backing up now onto the two pieces of plywood…

And we have traction at last!

So this is working. Progress! Now to get the larger pieces and do the same to the front tires.

All pieces are in place and we have managed to back all of our tires onto them.

Get a few more sheets of plywood at the front of all four tires.

Now we are getting somewhere!


We are off to a good start; I try to go as far as I can up this long steep hill.

I quickly spin out and begin sliding back down!


Time for a new trick.

Get all wooden pieces in position and then edge backwards onto four of them.

Re-position the front pieces for maximum coverage.

Eassssssssssse forward.


Now it is a question of wash-rinse-repeat.

Slowly, ever so slowly, inch by inch we creep back up the hill.

The wind is howling at this point, snow blinding us.

We falter a couple of times and the wood is starting to crack.

Pieces go flying out the back of the car as the tires catch them.

But with each re-positioning of the pieces we are making progress!

My hands are going numb in the cold, they are like meat hooks.

Hours pass and we finally reach the summit.


‘The Summit’

Likening it to some gargantuan pass!


  • Going up is sometimes WAYYYY harder than going down.
  • Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.
  • If it does not work, experiment!
  • Start small with the least amount of effort.
  • Discard what does not work, keep what works.
  • Do not stop iterating until you have a good solution.
  • Be prepared to adapt to new challenges!

Engineer with a small dash of quirkiness, always on the lookout for new things to learn. Avid sailor and adventurer. Publisher of good(?) ideas.

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Eric North

Eric North

Engineer with a small dash of quirkiness, always on the lookout for new things to learn. Avid sailor and adventurer. Publisher of good(?) ideas.

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