“When you understand the risks and push through, you live.”
Editor’s Note: Range Finder is a snowboard film that offers a glimpse into the lives and inner workings of professional riders Mark Carter, Bryan Iguchi, and Mary Rand. Filmed in the frozen Wyoming backcountry, the solitude of a lonely winter provides the perfect backdrop for introspection. Each rider’s approach is defined by self-reliance, escapism, and social distance… not by mandate, but by design. Mary Rand spitballed with Mark about her experience riding alongside him in the desolate Wyoming wilderness. She knew she was in for a unique experience, but these moments in the mountains proved to be pivotal for other areas of her life.
Two weeks of on-and-off filming in Wyoming, in true Carter fashion: packing up the rigs, getting all the supplies, and sleeping at the trailhead for as long as needed. I somehow landed in the position of following Carter around on a sled deep in the Wyoming backcountry. I almost can’t even believe the words myself. Coming from the east coast with a street background, this is a side of snowboarding that I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams. From experience I knew that filming and sledding with Carter would be tiring yet efficient; I counted on early starts, long days, and making the most of each hour. This isn’t to say he doesn’t value rest and refueling, because he does––just as much as working hard. Carter knows this is the only way to be successful over a long winter and not get burned out. He has become a key mentor in snowboarding and life for me. I am proud to call him a friend.
Mark Carter: With the Range Finder project, I really wanted to show my philosophy in the mountains; especially in Wyoming. Having everything in Wyoming, not having to leave, sleeping where we ride––getting fully immersed in it. I think one of the most important things is spending time in the area where you are going to work and ride, really earning it. I love being self-contained and sustainable with my own program. It allows you to move with the weather and [go] wherever the wind blows you. For me, being in control of your whole program eliminates all the factors that lead to being unsuccessful. I like to eliminate the variables and take the path of least resistance. That’s what makes for productivity. I’d rather be away from all the crowds and people. I like people, but in the mountains, I would rather be around people that I can really trust. Those that inspire me and don’t take away from my energy. I believe being out there in the mountains taking the time to connect is the most important thing to recharge for life and keep a clear head for making decisions in the mountains.
Mary Rand: I respect that you keep the crew—and the structure of the crew—tight. It’s a known thing with you that you don’t roll deep. You’re only going to go out with a hard-working, like-minded team. I really appreciate and respect that about you.
Carter: I’ve done this for so long; there’re recipes for success and that’s one of them.
Rand: Totally. Although it’s easy to get caught up with who’s who. Who’s going to give more exposure or elevate riders in some way. That leads to packed crews in the backcountry. But you take it seriously who you invite. That really made it such an honor for me to join you. I also think that mindset creates more purpose and genuine motivation in the mountains.
Carter: It’s more than just filming. It’s calm in chaos. Setting the crew up to come home healthy at the end of the day. The main thing is to go work hard and come home safe. Instagram followers and likes don’t mean anything out there. No shot is worth your life. There is so much recklessness and ego in the backcountry. I am conditioned for the dangers out there because of the dangers in ranching. I think the dangers in ranching are more so than in snowboarding; I control a lot more of the factors in the mountains than on the ranch.
Rand: I felt safe with our crew. We had a similar level of acceptance for risk because obviously there’s always a risk. A lot of the time, I was most nervous sledding. I’d say that was the biggest challenge for me. But because I felt so confident in the crew’s abilities in the mountains and you guys were confident in me, that’s what made it possible for me. That was huge for me as a person, to challenge myself to the max in that way, not give up, come home so exhausted, get my shit together and dried out and [know] we were waking up at 5:30 the next morning to do it again. Really for me, because of those experiences, that has become a driving force in my life. Being able to push my limits of exhaustion mentally, physically, and emotionally. You have been a shining example of that for me, year-round. It motivates me to really use all those on-hill experiences in my life and apply that hard work, determination, and dedication to other areas in my life.
Carter: You watch fear dictate people’s lives all around us. You can let fear control you or push through the fear and actually live. I will not exist in this life. I will live. When you’re scared, you just exist. When you understand the risks and push through, you live.
Rand: Yeah, you’re totally right. To even understand that concept, you have to push through some fear. All I keep picturing in my mind is that one sidehill I battled.
Carter: Oh yes. That sidehill that breaks men. The sidehill that breaks just about everybody.
I’ve seen grown men cry. Full breakdowns saying ‘I can’t do it!’ Well, you can’t turn around here.
Rand: Pash [Alex Pashley], Fred [Norquis], and you are the perfect amount of nose to the ground, serious about getting shit done, but always with a sense of humor, a smile, and positivity. It would be a waste of energy for me, and the rest of the crew, to beat myself up about being a burden, being the slowest, and the least experienced in the crew. Not once did anyone ever make me feel like that and that’s the only way I was able to not break down.
Carter: Totally, you gotta keep it light in the backcountry. Attitude is important out there.
Mary Rand is a professional stunt boarder. Follow her antics @bigairmare