Matt Niswonger

Gnarvana: Adventure Sports Journal 100th Issue

Welcome to the 100th issue of Adventure Sports Journal. In 2001 we began distributing the very first copies of ASJ out of an old blue Volvo wagon. The concept of combining all adventure sports into a single “thing” seemed novel at the time. This was before GoPro, Facebook, Instagram, or Red Bull Media. It’s amazing how much has changed over the years. We are proud to be California’s original outdoor sports magazine.

More than ever we are committed to California’s wild places, and the wild people who play here. In the last few years we have added Nevada to our distribution list, to include climbing areas like Red Rock Canyon and the mountain biking boom that is happening in Carson City and elsewhere in the Silver State.

It goes without saying that California and Nevada represent a unique opportunity for people who play in the great outdoors. When it comes to climbing, surfing, mountain biking, skiing, and any other adventure sport you can think of, our terrain is a top five destination at a minimum, and usually we are quite simply the gold standard. In terms of the four main sports we cover – climbing, surfing, mountain biking, and skiing/snowboarding – California pretty much sets the bar for the rest of the world.

Still, there is a downside to living near such an embarrassment of outdoor riches. How does one find the time to take advantage of all this outdoor opportunity while pursuing a career, raising a family, and keeping up with exorbitant housing costs?

In response, we’ve seen the so called “adventure lifestyle” go mainstream. Originally the practice of just a few diehard climbers and surfers, we now see an entire generation of adventure enthusiasts re-framing their priorities around simplicity and outdoor adventure.

This sort of dedication is not the height of irresponsibility as some might suggest. With the passing of Jack O’Neill and Royal Robbins, we see how both hardcore adventure and business success can be combined into one lifestyle. In this complex economy is it so far-fetched to suggest that the outdoor lifestyle could also represent a career opportunity as well? As we’ve been saying all along, the powerful mental state that results from a regular practice of adventure can be pretty darn useful for making money.

While ASJ was started by a couple who saw a need for a publication with a regional outdoor perspective (Cathy and I started the magazine after an inspiring climbing trip in Yosemite), we would be remiss not to recognize all the incredible support we have received over the years. In no particular order we would like to recognize Mariann Claesson, Christa Fraser, Pete Gauvin, Michele Charboneau, Brook Taylor, Steve Shaw, Mark Hoover, Jennifer Stein, Juliann Klein, our interns and distributors, the many talented writers and photographers who form the core of what we do, and last but not least all of the companies who make ASJ possible by purchasing advertising space.

In Buddhism, Nirvana is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. I use the term “gnarvana” to describe a similar transcendent state that is available to those who pursue a regular practice of adventure sports in the great outdoors. This blissful state of Gnarvana is why we started ASJ all those years ago: we wanted to share with others what we have been lucky enough to find in California.

See you outside!

— Matt Niswonger


Main Photo: Adventure Sports Journal was started in 2001 a couple of years after we got married. One hundred issues and many adventures later we now have three kids.


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