On the exciting drive to Copper we saw a silver-grey van stopped, stacks of backpacks and 6 or 8 college students waving as we slowed, but drove just beyond. Realizing they were waving for help, I thought, they probably have Verizon too (no service here between towns). I backed up along the shoulder.
The first question was, “do you have any different tools”? “Our lug wrench is slipping”. First glance showed 7 loosened lugs on that big right-side, rear van wheel. My “lug wrench” is part of a pared-down toolbox tossed into a lightweight Homie’s Orange plastic box. A Craftsman breaker bar and deep socket; it fits both the Tramper and Marfa the 4 Runner. It did NOT fit the Colorado Mountain College van.
After allowing tries with several other size sockets, it was clear this was a stubborn lug nut. My “hammer” is a camp axe, but is in the cubby of the Tramper, back at the campground. I smacked the offender a few times with the heavy breaker bar. Shock is your friend against friction. A small vise grip was quickly tried, broken and abandoned (I gave permission to break or abuse anything as needed).
My next attack included a little trip back into my toolbox and some “creativity”. I grabbed a hacksaw blade, bent it at about the depth of a socket, 3/8″ or so. Then, a student handed me the key: A Bigger Hammer! This was no ordinary hammer, it was his ice axe. I pounded the socket over the lug nut with the hacksaw blade wedged into one flank of the hex. Pounded some more. I pushed down with all my weight and pressure inwards to keep that socket on. Not a budge, despite a few grunts and cuss words.
Then, I recomposed myself, flipped the wrench to give me the best torque, pulling upwards and grunted some more. I think it was a Scottish heritage grunt; a Grant Grunt! And so the lug turned. Advising them not to worry about driving with 7 out of 8 lugs, I threw my tools back into the box, shook a few hands and ran back to our car. (Had it not yielded, I would have added a few drops of oil or transmission fluid from a dipstick, and asked if anyone had a camp stove. Heat, your other friend against friction. The other, priceless tool is persistence: remember, “The mechanic will have his way”.)
Off to Copper. They, in turn were soon on their way to ice climb at Vail.