'Sunshine Personified': Friends, Family Remember Rock Climber Killed In Fall

An experienced rock climber is being remembered today for how he lived his life, Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield reports (2:30). WCCO 4 News At 6 - March 30, 2021

Video Transcript

- An experienced rock climber is being remembered today for how he lived his life. 23-year-old Mitchell Rognrud was climbing with a friend at Interstate Park last week. They both fell from a rock. The friend survived, but Mitchell didn't make it. Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield spoke with those who knew the popular Minneapolis climber best.

TROY ROGNRUD: Double major at the University of Minnesota. He was a very well, well-rounded kid. I mean, to me, he wasn't just my son. He was my friend. I mean, we could talk about anything.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And Mitchell Rognrud was a friend to many.

QUINN BELLESTRI: Enthusiastic, you know, funny, and energetic, pretty much anything you can think of that describes a happy person.

- He was sunshine personified.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: He was also goal oriented. He and his girlfriend and friends had planned to rock climb in Moab, Utah.

This is the homemade wall that Mitchell put together. He would practice here for hours at a time all in preparation for his big trip.

In fact, that's why Mitchell was in Taylors Falls on Thursday, training for his excursion.

TROY ROGNRUD: He trained very hard. He had two books about, you know, holds. He would study that stuff, and he would make sure that he was doing things right.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: But something went wrong. Somehow Mitchell fell at Interstate Park. Two Minneapolis officers and a chaplain showed up at his father's house to break the news.

TROY ROGNRUD: And they said, are you Troy Rognrud? And I said yes. And they said, is your son Mitchell Rognrud? I said yes. And then they said-- and they said he was in an accident. And they said he passed away. And I just broke down.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: And now they're breaking down together, holding on to each other, holding on to memories.

TROY ROGNRUD: I hope that his legacy is an inspiration to other people. I mean, he demonstrated just a life of giving.

SUSAN-ELIZABETH LITTLEFIELD: Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield, WCCO 4 News.

- Mitchell's friends plan to take the trip to Moab and spread his ashes there. His friends have also started a GoFundMe as a way to donate to a solar energy foundation in his honor. They say if you can't donate, consider a trip, planting a tree, or adopting a rescue dog in his honor. We have details on all of this at wcco.com/links.