words by Iris Ma, photos by Iris Ma, Shin NImura, Richard Graham
There those who climb, and there are those who hike, but rarely do you find folks that love to combine these two activities together and actually have a blast in both arenas. When I met Shin at Sender One, whom I call Shin-sama or “Lord Shin” , I quickly discovered his passion for hiking. I learned that he and a handful of friends were part of an offbeat club. A club of people who successfully partake in the BS Combo.
The BS Combo was created by Shin and his friend Richard when they were training to summit Mount Whitney via the East Buttress from the Whitney Portal Trailhead in a single day. Generally this strenuous classic is broken up over two days, and involves a hike in and a long multi-pitch climb to the summit. To simulate this effort, the BS Combo was born, which involves a hike to the summit of Mount Baldy (B) and then climbing laps Sender One (S).
So, over Easter weekend, Shin-sama had gathered his herd of masochists for another BS Combo. We would meet at the Baldy Visitor Center at 7:00 a.m., take the Bear Canyon Trail, gain 6,000 feet of elevation to the summit, then head to Sender One to complete 20 routes - the equivalent of 1,000 vertical feet.
When I arrived at 6:45 a.m., Shin was already parked in front of the Visitor Center chatting away with the locals. When Jozef and Richard arrived, I reported that Scott would either join in later, or not at all, so we headed off around 7:15 a.m.
From the start, Jozef sprinted out past the group and we would only see glimpses of him from afar until we reached the summit. It seemed he had more energy and eagerness to push his limits than the rest of us and would maintain his pace to reach the summit within 3 hours. Very impressive for someone who doesn't even hike! As Shin would say, "I don't like suffering." While there is a degree of fun to suffering, I decided to take a steadier pace, knowing my legs were already giving me signs that I should have taken the day off within the first mile. I made a mental note to suggest we start an hour earlier in the future as I felt the heat rising on the switchbacks.
At about 8:40 a.m., I heard a steady trot behind me and thought it was Richard, but to my surprise, I saw his signature smile, reflective sunglasses and floppy hat. "I thought we were training! What's up with this lazy pace, Iris Ma?" chirped Scott.
I've lost count the times Scott would appear out of nowhere in the mountains. I don't think I will ever get tired of that happening. Scott easily passed each of us to reach the summit first. He lamented about taking 2 hr 22 mins but hung out with the group for a bit before heading down. I too was beginning to feel chilled and quickly put on the jacket Jozef lent to Scott to keep warm.
We got back to our cars, and prepared for part two of the BS combo.I made it to Sender One in the afternoon, and I set up in the workout area. I waited a while for Jozef and Richard to arrive. Jozef had taken much longer to descend, perhaps due to the energy he used earlier in the day. But now, they were both refueled with freshly squeezed carrot juice and ready to climb. And so we did.
Jozef offered rules for Richard and I. We would each climb one route, and alternate belaying so that the climber would have a rest before it was their turn. This rule would soon be broken by rule-maker Jozef as we made it to lap 6, as he found it extremely difficult to simply sit still. While Richard and I climbed routes of varying difficulty, Jozef stuck to his rule of climbing routes 11b and above. By lap 16, we were starting to fade, both mentally or physically. However, we kept pushing through, and Shin-sama’s band of goats finished out another successful BS combo.
Some tips from Shin-sama for future BS Combo enthusiasts:
- Pace yourself
- Hydrate the day before and be sure to bring enough water on the hike
- Start early to avoid the heat
- Drink a gallon of carrot juice while driving from the trail head to Sender One
- Yoga helps. Try doing up to 3 hours everyday
- Treat yourself to a decent snack to enjoy at the summit
- Keep your sunglasses and belongings where you can recover them if misplaced