Mirabeau Mystery Solved


Brett Jessen at Mirabeau. // Photo Jon Jonckers.

OTM reader Tawnya Swanson sent this awesome email with the history Mirabeau Park climbing routes featured in this month’s cover story. You can read the original Mirabeau Rock City article online here. On to Tawnya’s email:

I can give you some light on the who, when and why of climbing routes at Mirabeau Park. I don’t know if Wayne Bagley already e-mailed you with information, but I will give you what I know. That climbing wall used to be in the elk pin at the Walk in the Wild Zoo. When the zoo closed down and fences were removed Russ Mehrens discovered the area and talked Wayne Bagley and my husband Dan Swanson into checking it out. They, Mark Tuggle and myself started climbing the wall with top ropes the summer of 1998. By the end of the summer and the next summer, we had bolted everything but the routes given credit in the article and the one with just one bolt.

As far as names go, I have only been able to come up with a few that I was more connected to. Your # 2 or 3 was named “Six Pack” because you had to reach into a large hole and you could grab the hold like you would a six pack. Your # 9 was called “Pink Flamingo” and Dan Swanson set it. I think he used a couple of cams on it. Your # 11 was named “Wild Cat” and I (Tawnya Swanson) set it. Your # 12 was named “Walk On The Wild Side” and Bill Sentinary and Russ Schultz (climbing friends) set the one bolt. We called it “The Bastard Climb” because of only one bolt and we didn’t feel like we should mess with it.

Your “Corsica Block” was bolted more for my sake because I was not as strong of a climber and my husband wanted something for me to lead and practice on. All of the rest was done by Dan Swanson, Wayne Bagley, and Mark Tuggle. Mark has since passed away in an avalanche 2 ½ years ago at Stevens Peak in Idaho. We were “old climbers” even 10 years ago. Wayne and I are 43, Dan is 49, Russ Mehrens is 55 and Mark would be 53. We only climbed the 2 years there because there got to be too many people just passing by on walks. The first year there were no buildings in the whole area but the second year the YMCA had been built and trails were being better established. We moved our weeknight sport climbing to the Dishman area after those two years.

We, at the time, were doing first ascents on Lions Head in the Selkirk Mountains and so these little climbs didn’t really get documented too much other than I have pictures of me bolting “Wild Cat”. Wayne Bagley might have more information as far as names and who set the routes. His e-mail address is wayngoski@zeronet.net.

It was fun seeing pictures of the area again and reminiscing of my climbing days. The article was well written.

Tawnya Swanson

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