words and photos: Aaron Blatt
video: Mark Wierenga
It’s still quite dark out as Mark Carter and his brother rally up and down the sides of the pack on their KLX 300s. With the help of a few Wyoming cowboys on horseback from neighboring ranches, the Carter Brothers are expertly herding seven hundred head of jet black cattle against the fence line with their motorcycles. Dust flies, the sun cracks over the mountains, and at a brisk pace the herd makes their way back up to the high country. Then and there, it would be an easy conclusion to draw, that Mark Carter lives a double life. During the winter, he crews up with generations of top shelf riders in snowboarding, the likes of Bryan Iguchi, Travis Rice, Blake Paul and the Mindnich Brothers, starring alongside them in some of the most legendary snowboard films to date. In the summer, Mark is here, in a world that seems just about as far from snowboarding as a person can get.
In the Eastern Wyoming summers and falls, Carter puts in long days of work with his brother, RC and their hired cowboys, Jasper and Pepi, on his family’s 50,000 acre ranch. Since the 1960’s, the Carters have been dedicated to outputting the highest quality black angus beef: grass-fed in the high country during the summers, and fattened in the valley on their home pastures in the winter. The cattle live good lives, and the family prides themselves on a sustainable, respectable operation.
Carter has been working on the ranch all his life and he brings his dedication and work ethic learned from the ranch out into the backcountry. His skills on his snowboard, along with his ability to read the snow and make decisions have placed him amongst the elite in snowboarding. When it’s time for a crew to sink their teeth into a two-day build on a jump, Carter can always be at the front of the pack. Discipline from life on the ranch allows him to make tough decisions in the backcountry; when the snow is unstable, a lifetime of hands-on decision making provides the confidence for the right call. Though it may seem that way from the outside, there is no double life for Mark Carter: there’s hard honest work, in any environment.
The following images show a glimpse of life on the Carter Ranch, the relationships between all of the moving parts during the annual cattle run, from the Carter Family and their machines, to the cowboys, their horses, the dogs and the cattle themselves.
Special thanks to The Carter Family, Leatherman Sport, and Marc Wierenga for making this gallery possible.
Read the full Carter Country: Summer with Mark Carter, Seven Hundred Cattle and the Carter Ranch in Wyoming article on Snowboarder Magazine.