MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An experienced rock climber is being remembered today for how he lived his life. He died while climbing in Taylors Falls last Thursday.

Deputies say he was climbing with a friend when they both fell from a rock in Interstate Park. The friend survived; Mitchell Rognrud was killed at the scene.

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WCCO spoke with who knew the popular climber best and how they hope people will respond to his death.

Troy Rognrud, Mitchell’s father, told WCCO Mitchell was a double major at the University of Minnesota, played a couple of sports in high school and was known as a “well-rounded and respectful kid.”

Troy Rognrud says he is in shock.

“To me, he wasn’t just my son, he was my friend. We could talk about anything,” he said.

Mitchell Rognrud was a friend to many. Life-long friend Quinn Bellestri described him as “Enthusiastic, funny and energetic, just pretty much anything you can think of that describes a happy person.”

Another friend Joe Nogosek says everyone is remembering his spirit as “sunshine personified.”

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He was also goal-oriented. He and his girlfriend and friends had planned to rock-climb in Moab, Utah. Mitchell Rognrud was outfitting a van for the trip and practicing for hours on end on a wall he created at his father’s home.

In fact, that’s why he was in Taylors Falls on Thursday, training for his trip. But something went wrong and somehow he fell at Interstate Park. Two Minneapolis officers and a chaplain showed up to break the news.

“They said, ‘Are you Troy Rognrud?’ They said, ‘Is your son Mitchell Rognrud?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’ and they said he was in an accident and they said he passed away,” his father said. “And I just broke down.”

Now, friends and family have huddled together in tears and reflection, holding on to each other, holding on to memories.

Mitchell Rognrud’s friends plan to still take the trip to Moab; they will spread his ashes there.

His friends have started a GoFundMe and a way to donate to a solar energy foundation in his honor. When someone donates to the latter, they can dedicate their donation in memory of Mitchell Rognrud, with the person to notify as Joe Nogosek at joehnogosek4@gmail.com.

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Friends ask that that if people don’t donate, they plan a trip, plant a tree, or rescue a dog in his honor.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield