Open Range: An interview with Mark Carter
Mark Carter | Photo: Rip Zinger
Mark Carter isn’t your typical snowboarder. Born and bread in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, Carter splits his time snowboarding remote locations around the world with the likes of some of the best in the game including: Travis Rice, Mads Jonsson, Brian Iguchi, Jamie Lynn and more. What you might not know about him is that he’s a rancher at heart. Ranch life, as Carter puts it, “has given me everything that has made me what I am today.” That said, we’re pretty stoked he’s a rancher. You see, ranch life isn’t easy. Getting up at the crack of dawn (probably earlier) and dealing with wild animals all day can be a dangerous lifestyle. It’s that lifestyle that has made Carter the snowboarder he is today, and that’s one thing we can all appreciate.
How did the idea of “Carter Country: Open Range” come about?
The idea of Open Range came from my good friend Jesse Brown and I wanting to branch out and do our own thing. We wanted to let the winter happen and take what she gave us. The focus needed to be on the camaraderie and the appreciation for the mountains. It was important for me to ride with the guys I wanted. Not because they are some of the best rippers out there, but because they truly appreciate what we get to do, and their humble approach is refreshing.
Did last year’s shitty snowfall inhibit you from filming the series?
Mother nature didn’t help a lot but she did manage to give us some great days. There were times when I wondered if the winter was ever going to turn on. It was very emotional to say the least but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing people. That took the sting out of most of it.
What was the hardest part about filming this past year?
Last year had some enduring times on many levels for me. I can honestly say it was some of the hardest times I have experienced. That and Mother Nature not cooperating made it tough.
Even with tough times in snowboarding, I have to think that my life is pretty easy during the winter. I mean, here I am slashing mountains while my Dad and brother are off on the ranch in the same, cold weather working their asses off.
Winter is a busy time on the ranch as hundreds of cows have to be fed every day and calving season is in full swing. You’re constantly checking the calves for birthing complications – of which there are many – and leads to long days and no sleep.
Then there’s the weather of which you have no control over. It can be brutal out there during the winter months. At least they stay warm in all of The North Face gear I give them.
Carter with a deep pow slash in the backcountry of Japan | Photo: Rip Zinger
How about the best part?
The best part of last winter was the ability to continue to do what I love with the people I want to do it with. It was a lot of work planning everything by ourselves, but in the end, it was worth every moment. Traveling to these insane locations with the crew has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and it left a smile on my face for days.
What locations did you film at for “Open Range?”
On and off throughout the winter we were in Jackson Hole, being as that’s were most of us call home base. The winter really didn’t shape up like we are used to here, but we made the best of it.
We also headed up to Baldface to visit my good buddy Jeff Pensiero. We were there to partake in the annual guide training and to shred some of the best cat accessed terrain in the world.
After that we headed to Japan with an amazing crew of riders. It was all time! Our local guide Rip Zinger showed us just why Japan is so special. Deep pow for days!
We ended the season in Alaska with a small window to shred. We managed our time well and actually got some stuff done. I always wish we had more time up there.
Did you film with any other crews for any specific video projects?
Yeah, I ended up filming with the People Films crew a bit this year. I’m super stoked on how their movie Pretty Wise turned out.
You could say style comes easy to Carter | Photo: Rip Zinger
You obviously didn’t film by yourself last year. Who can we expect to see in the new series?
I had the honor of riding with some of the best in the game last year including: Guch (Brian Iguchi), TRice (Travis Rice), Jamie Lynn, Mads Jonsson, Sammy Luebke, Alex Yoder and Mikey Mahron. These dudes make up such an amazing crew that led to so many good times.
Most people know you for your snowboarding. Tell us a little about the rancher in you and why it’s such a big part of your life.
I was born a bred on a cattle ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The ranch has given me everything that has made me what I am today.
I’m so fortunate to be able to have been brought up in that world; It’s a simple life that is very rewarding. I love being in nature and taking care of the animals. There is nothing better than a hard day’s work in the mud and the blood.
I’ve had so many unbelievable experiences in this life, from huge cattle battles to fixing miles of barbwire fence. The people in it are the best part. They’re real cowboys and working class folks.
There is no such thing as materialism where I’m from and people call it like they see it. The cowboys are the last of a dying breed. My dad is one of the best on this planet and I’ve seen him do the impossible more than once.
Ranch life is the complete opposite from my life as a snowboarder. I live and work on the ranch in the summer and it makes me that much more hungry to shred. I miss the snowboarding in the summer and the ranching in the winter. It truly keeps me grounded.
Mark and his father enjoying a cold one on the ranch
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the ranch?
I look back and wonder how I’m still here. I’ve had so many close calls growing up on the ranch; too many to count. One that comes to mind was when I was around five years old. I was a curious little bugger and my dad was always breaking these really nasty horses, so was around them a lot.
One day I was down the fence trying to turn a hay bail over to see the baby mice under it. Dad was unsaddling one of his renegades up from me when he spooked. There was still a cinch on him so the saddle went under his belly. This is a worst-case scenario for a rank horse, and of coarse he freaked out and bucked as hard as he could down the fence at me. The last thing I remember was this huge beast coming at me before it went dark.
Dad said I was tossed between his legs like a rag doll until I was spit out. He thought for sure that was the end of me. After being out for a while I ended up with only a few scratches. I was really lucky.
This is the norm of ranch life and I’ve dodged a lot of bullets over the years. It definitely helps when it comes to snowboarding and the mindset you have to have these days. I wouldn’t trade the ranch memories for anything.