Growing up in the mountains inspires climber to protect Alaska lands
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Lang with a pack on skis with the mountains and sun behind him.

Growing up in the mountains inspires climber to protect Alaska lands

Lang Van Dommelen joined Trustees as legal assistant in June 2020. Here, Lang talks about how growing up in Alaska and spending so much time outside has inspired him to protect Alaska lands for generations to come.

Lang with a pack on skis with the mountains and sun behind him.
Another snow day.

My parents sold our Anchorage home and moved our family to a dry cabin on Bird Creek when I was 13.  I spent my summers exploring our backyard and the surrounding Chugach State Park, and fishing for salmon as they ran up the creek.

I was always outside, even when doing household chores (chopping wood and hauling water), but it was rock climbing that cemented my relationship with the outdoors. By 17, I lived and breathed climbing. By college, I learned to shape my class and work schedules around getting to a crag or gym to climb.

Hooked on climbing

I dreamt of unexplored valleys and unclimbed mountain rock walls. In 2013, I spent three weeks in the Alaska Range climbing and skiing in remote parts of the eastern range. By the time I hiked the 40 miles from our basecamp to the Richardson Highway, no amount of suffering could deter me: I was hooked on remote climbing.

Lang climbing a rock.

Since then I have climbed and skied and backpacked throughout the Alaska Range, Brooks Range, and the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains—and I have been plotting my next big expedition since 2018, when I returned from the Arrigetch peaks in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

I work as hard as I play

While attending the University of Alaska Anchorage, I developed an interest in sustainable development, so I studied political science and environmental studies. After graduation, I worked on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. I traveled to rural communities to help implement wind-energy projects that helped local utilities decrease their reliance on fossil fuels.

These stepping stones led me further down a path toward energy security, education, and housing development work in western Alaska. I am still interested in sustainable development in Alaska, and I am currently pursuing a master of public administration degree focusing on rural development and natural resources at University of Alaska Southeast.

Lang skiing in powder show with more mountains in the background.
Carving turns.

Passing it forward

I recognize how lucky I was to grow up where I did. I still marvel at how fortunate I am to be able to experience these wild places.

In Alaska, you can spend weeks without seeing signs of other humans. Wilderness areas are irreplaceable, and need continued protection. I am excited to be working with Trustees for Alaska to ensure that these beautiful and wild places are here for generations to come.