Jason Magness, Zen Action Vagabond

Jason Magness is a “legend in the small underground of adventure sports.” At least that’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which this weekend profiled Magness, a climber/adventure racer/yogi/slack-liner buddy of mine from North Dakota famous for—among a few things—snowkiting across North Dakota two months ago in the name of renewable wind power energy (see my story on the trip here: http://thegearjunkie.com/sailing-across-the-prairie)

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But a “legend”? Well, I’ll have to get his opinion on that. The Wall Street Journal story (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120735228186491329.html?mod=hpp_us_leisure) is called “Into the Wild With Yoga,” and reporter Alexandra Alter focuses on Magness’ pursuit of yoga on a slackline (“yogaslacking”) as well as his free-spirited “itinerant adventure addict” lifestyle.

As Zen vagabond types go, Magness is the real deal. He lives out of a van and sleeps on couches around the country, traveling to race, climb and teach yoga and slacking. He is 32 years old and has a background in physics, once working as a rocket-systems engineer for Raytheon in Tucson.

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I met Magness at Primal Quest Utah, a 10-day adventure race we both did (on separate teams) in 2006. We shared a crazy moment in the middle of the night, lost in the desert, on about the fourth day of the event, both sleep deprived and delirious.

In the WSJ story, Alter cites Magness as the personification of “the latest generation of American drifters who live to scale cliffs, ski or surf” and earn “four-figure annual incomes.” To provide some context, the writer quotes Chuck “Chongo” Tucker, a 56-year-old climber who’s lived summers outdoors for nearly four decades in Yosemite Valley. “People dream of doing what we’re doing,” Chongo says.

Magness gets quoted saying things like “Exploring that edge of human potential is really fascinating to me.” But the funny thing is, from Magness, this sentence I believe does not contain a drop of B.S.: He pushes life and the current moment to its max, whether that’s in the Virabhadrasana pose while balanced on webbing or six days deep into a race, head swimming, blisters bleeding on his heels.

Alter captures some of that in the story, readable in full here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120735228186491329.html?mod=hpp_us_leisure

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