< brief bio

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Francis Sanzaro (PhD) is a climber, academic, speaker, and the author of books on philosophy, climbing, athletic theory and comparative religion. His essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in The New York Times, Outside, Huffington Post, Climbing, Adventure Journal, The Baltimore Post Examiner, Continental Philosophy Review, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Rock and Ice, among a dozen others. 

His books include:

  • The Boulder: A Philosophy for Bouldering
  • Society Elsewhere: Why the Gravest Threat to Humanity Will Come From Within. 
  • The Infantile Grotesque: Pathology, Sexuality and a Theory of Religion.
  • The Zen of Climbing
  • Zen of the Wild (forthcoming)

Recently, he delivered a talk for TEDx Ascend in Colorado, speaking on approaches to risk and our relationship with the natural world, and was features in two tv episodes of Ancient Wisdom for the Modern World.


Ph.D., Religion, Syracuse University, June 2012.

M.Phil., Religion. Syracuse University. Fall 2008.

M.A., Philosophy, University of Denver, 2005. Special Field: Critical and Interpretative Theory, with a focus on the history of Philosophy.
M.A., Religion, University of Denver. Special Field: Philosophy of Religion, 2005.

B.A., Colorado State University, 2001.


Writer. Climber. Philosopher. 

I’m pretty much always doing one of the above. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1979, and attended Colorado State University, first majoring in mathematics, then ending up in journalism and poetry. Go figure. In 2001, while in college, I was featured on the cover of Rock and Ice magazine.

After graduating, I traveled around the world with my future companion, then, once back to the U.S., entered the University of Denver for an M.A. in Philosophy and an M.A. in World Religions. I would later attend Syracuse University on a University Fellowship for a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion, awarded in 2012.

After doing some university teaching, I migrated to ed-tech, where I worked as the CLO (Chief Learning Officer) for Wisewire, running a team of learning architects, and creating/consulting on multi-media products for companies as diverse as PBS, Amazon and Discovery, among others.

My philosophical texts—and various essays, op-ed, articles, etc.—could be aptly summed up by a desire to develop an at-large philosophy, one that is free to speak to a wider public and address issues that traditional philosophy cannot address. 

The Boulder: A Philosophy for Bouldering, my first book, filled a gap that still exists in my opinion—a rich, textured philosophy of sport, grounded in the body, training, ecology, and cultural theory. As an early gymnast and lifelong climber, this text is informed by a deep knowledge of the history of philosophy layered over a life of high-end athletics. The Boulder is now on its second edition.

The Infantile Grotesque: Pathology, Sexuality and a Theory of Religion, my second text, is an interdisciplinary romp in art history, film studies and psychology...all of which are needed to help explain our culture's ambivalence to the event of reproduction.

Society Elsewhere: Why the Gravest Threat to Humanity Will Come from Within, published in 2018, wonders about the look and feel of our future 'algorithmic culture,' which is, by most accounts, a foregone conclusion. This text addresses head-on how technology is changing the way we think about creativity, culture and the 'intelligence' of our Earth.

I am a former Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Ice, Ascent and Gym Climber magazines. I live and work in the mountains of Carbondale, Colorado, with my wife and two children. 

My writing has appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Yahoo, The Scotsman, Outside, Adventure Journal, Happy Hipocrite, Greyrock Review,  Rock and Ice, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Ascent, Continental Philosophy Review, Counter Culture, Sierra Nevada Review, Rock and Ice Magazine, U.K. Climbing, The Baltimore Post Examiner, Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, among many others. 

Recently, I gave a talk on the psychology of risk and wilderness for TedX Mile High's Ascent, in April of 2022.

I'm currently, as of Spring 2023, working on Zen of the Wild.

Get in Touch
For speaking, writing, or whatever, I can be reached at francissanzaro@hotmail.com or francis.sanzaro2@gmail.com