The Zen of Climbing

Francis Sanzaro

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; and Society Elsewhere: Why the Gravest Threat to Humanity Will Come From Within. He appeared at TEDx Ascend in Colorado speaking on approaches to risk and our relationship with the natural world.

The Zen of Climbing

by Francis Sanzaro

  • RRP: £8.99 (print)
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781913393717


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What do Zen masters, sixteenth-century Samurai, and the world’s elite climbers have in common?
They have acquired the art of awareness.

Climbing is a sport of perception, and our level of attainment is a matter of mind as much as body.

Written by philosopher, essayist, and lifelong climber Francis Sanzaro, The Zen of Climbing explores the fundamentals of successful climbing, delving into sports psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and Taoism. Awareness, he argues, is the foundation of climbing, allowing us to merge mental and physical attributes in one embodied whole.

Written by the author of the classic The Boulder: A Philosophy of Bouldering, this book puts the climber’s mind at the forefront of practice.

REVIEWS OF The Zen of Climbing

“Between the start and finish of every climb, big or small, is a vertical gulf we can see across but never fully chart beforehand. The Zen of Climbing provides a peerless working model of how to embrace the unknown, cross that gulf and come to know the crazy wonderful sorcery of ascent.” – John Long, author of more than forty books, storyteller, stonemaster

“The Zen of Climbing is a fascinating read. We are climbing our best by paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment. The book integrates different forms of practice for devel¬oping your physical, cognitive, and mental domains. Highly recommended!” – Udo Neumann, climber, coach, filmmaker, co-author of Performance Rock Climbing.

“A skillful and entertaining presentation of aspects of Zen that can make one a better climber and, at the same time, enhance one’s enjoyment of climbing. Top athletes, climbers and others, reveal how these traits improved their performance and led to deeper understanding and appreciation of their craft.” – John Gill, father of modern bouldering, author, mathematician

“If you really want to level up your climbing, want to connect with your every movement on the rock, The Zen of Climbing is essential to creating that experi¬ence. It’s a book we can all read, learn from, and then revisit time after time.” – Steve Bechtel, founder of Climb Strong and author of Logical Progression

“A skilled and experienced climber, Francis Sanzaro writes about his long-time application of Zen Buddhist mind-training techniques to overcome the difficulties of fear and enhance performance in life-challenging, climbing situations ... The lesson: we could bring this wisdom not only into climbing and other athletic pursuits but also into modern-day life in all its many aspects.” – John Baker, co-editor of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism and The Myth of Freedom

“Written by a climber, and for climbers, there is no better book to get you started climbing with the right mindset.” – Adam Ondra, first person to climb 5.15c and 5.15d, multiple World-Cup Gold Medalist.

"Outstandingly good … It may be the single most insightful book about climbing ever written." —Paul Sagar, Climber, writer, thinker.