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Community Spotlight: Isabel Kraut

Future founder of “Mothers of Climbing” Isabel Kraut: From Doorways to Walls

isabel kraut

Who are you and how did you get to Brooklyn?
I grew up in Southern California but I never fit in there, and the first time I came to New York, I immediately knew, “THESE are my people!”

I’ve been living in Brooklyn since 1980.

The fierce mama of a Brooklyn Beast confronts this problem head on

How did you start climbing?
About 4 years ago it was a rainy day and my son was sitting around bored, and we thought, why don’t we go over and check out that Brooklyn Boulders place we’ve heard about?  When we walked in, we gasped. We had never seen anything like it. My son took to it right away like a monkey. Eli Frankel happened to see him and said, “Hey, you’re good. You should try out for the team.” So he did, and he became a Brooklyn Beast. And I had to bring him to practice twice a week.

I stood around for several sessions, watching people climb and listening to the coaches. And finally I thought, “I can do this.”

So I took a Learn to Boulder class and I would climb while the team was practicing.

But early in the second season my son broke his arm and stopped climbing for a long time. But I kept on doing it.

What do you do?
I work in a big architecture firm. I used to be an architect, but I’m not anymore. Now I design web sites and databases.

What’s it like to be a female climber?

You can’t take off your shirt on hot days. And if you don’t shave your armpits it’s a political statement.

In some ways I think it’s more fun bouldering as a shorter person because the taller guys don’t get to make as many moves to get to the top.


What do you like about climbing?

It forces you to be 100% in the moment. When you are clinging to a wall by your toes and fingers 12 feet off the ground, you can’t think about ANYTHING else.

Mostly though it’s just enormous fun. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was climbing doorways. One bare foot on each side, inch your way up to the top, and bump your head on the ceiling. We used to have races. I can’t do it anymore because my legs are too long.


What do you like about Brooklyn Boulders?
Brooklyn Boulders is friendly. It has these little alcoves where you meet a handful of people and they all talk to each other and encourage each other. It’s not exactly that these are my people, but BKB is homey.  I’m comfortable there. I can be myself. I would hang out there for hours if I didn’t have other things I had to do.


Who’s your son? Does he ever miss climbing?
Linus Wramage. He’s 13 now. He has some friends who go to BKB after school sometimes and he’s started going with them.

And we’ve gone climbing in the Gunks twice with Alpine Endeavors. (Those guys are great.)

I also have another son who’s 25. He went to University of Colorado Boulder, so he learned how to climb there. He lives in Chicago now so I got him a 6-pack climbing pass to BKB Chicago as a present, and we went together last time I was there.

The illustrious founder of possible future group “Mothers of Climbing”

What is it like to be an older female climber? Do you get sad there isn’t as much competition in your category?

I’m still getting better at climbing, but that won’t go on forever. You begin to realize that if you want to do something physical, you better do it today because you may not be able to do it tomorrow.

Actually there is serious competition in my age category. Gail Rothschild is the same age as me, and she was a college classmate of mine. She is a monstrously talented athlete. Way out of my league.

But yes, I am always trying to get my friends to come climbing with me. Especially ladies of a Certain Age. I’m thinking of starting a group called “Mothers Of  Climbing.”


How has your life changed post-climbing?
I’m happier. But the sleeves on all my dresses are too tight.