In an age where smartphones have become ubiquitous, Mark Carter has embraced simplicity by using a flip phone. An unconventional choice, the professional backcountry snowboarder has always forged his own path forward, focused on creating an intentional life aligned with the values, priorities, and passions instilled during his upbringing on a cattle ranch in Wyoming.
In Ten Sleep, a town so small there is not a single stoplight, hard work was the epicenter of Mark’s childhood. His family didn’t own a television, and “there were no days off,” he explains. His father emphasized the importance of a strong work ethic, and Mark’s days were dictated by the flow of the seasons — ranching, hunting, and the outdoors shaped his life.
His remote agricultural town did not offer much exposure to snowsports, but a small local ski area with one lift provided a start — and a spark. He began spending winters snowboarding, first at Bridger Bowl and then in Jackson Hole from 2001 onward. Each summer Mark returned to his family’s ranch, working to save funds and subsidize winters spent snowboarding.
Mark worked on the park and pipe crew at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a place that soon felt like home. This foundation allowed him to venture into the natural terrain of big mountain riding in the backcountry, viewing the untouched slopes of powder as a blank canvas. He formed friendships within the nascent local snowboarding community during the early days of Bluebird Wax and Illuminati Snowboards. The founders and friends of these Jackson-based companies created a community that put the Tetons on the map at the forefront of backcountry snowboarding.
“There was a collective of guys — Bryan Iguchi, Willie McMillon, Lance Pitman, Adam Dowell. It was when Travis Rice had “The Community Project” coming out too,” Mark says. “They paved the way, they showed me what was possible.” Mark recalls attending the premier of the snowboard movie, “Water to Wine” at the Teton Theater, and realizing with certainty he wanted to become a professional snowboarder.
In 2007 came a turning point, when Travis Rice offered Mark a spot in the inaugural Natural Selection competition. “That was a monumental moment that legitimized my career,” he says. “I was a nobody, and Travis gave me this opportunity.” Mark was able to capitalize by winning second place in the competition, besting many established professional snowboarders. This catapulted his career, and led to sponsors like The North Face, Smartwool, Arbor, Yeti, Vans, and Oakley. Years of hard work and focus had finally culminated to open doors for future projects, and launch the career of his dreams.
His success has continued to grow over the years, but some things remain unchanged, such as Mark’s love of exploring the backcountry. On frigid winter mornings, he can be found waking up before dawn in his camper at a trailhead, ready to capture sunrise snowboard footage with his crew.
Another constant is the inspiration Mark finds from the Jackson snowboarding community. The locals who inspired his drive towards a professional career still motivate him today, in particular Bryan Iguchi. “He was a powerful mentor back then, and continues to be now. Guch is a legend, and one of the best people I know.” The two recently created the widely lauded lm, “Range Finder.”
And, as always, summers are spent ranching. He’s traveled the world, but Mark continues to choose Wyoming, branding calves and working livestock alongside his brother, father, and now his wife Baylee, who molds perfectly within his two worlds with her own love for snowboarding and riding bucking horses.
Ranching habits ingrained over the years, like the ability to stay focused on goals, handle chaotic moments, and exhibit patience and sound judgment in the face of the ever-changing conditions of Mother Nature — these are qualities that have served him well in his snowboarding career, and led to the success he wanted in life. For Mark, that means being deliberate about where his time and attention is focused. And recently, that means embracing the ease of a flip phone.
“Success isn’t defined by money,” he says. “I think owning your time is true success, to me.”