FOW: Carson Meyer

Teton Range, WY. FOW: Carson Meyer // Photo: Dom Oakes (@dom__oakes)

Carson Meyer’s name pops up a lot here at WNDR Alpine. You’ve probably seen him credited here on our stories, tagged on social media, or maybe you’ve even bumped into him on the skin track in Grand Teton National Park. If you did, you’d likely find him with camera in hand, firing off shots of his ski partners and then racing to catch up with them. A tirelessly dedicated skier and photographer, there’s not much that can stop Carson. 

Why are you a skier?

Because skiing is the best sport on the planet! But as much as it is about the freedom and experience for me, I would say just as big a part of my development into this sport was that it simply was what we did in Jackson in the winters. I have held a ski pass every year of my life. Every year! 

Both my parents were skiers and worked at JHMR when I was a kid. So there really wasn't a debate about what we were going to do on the weekend. I think that I have stuck with it because there is so much room for personal interpretation and growth. This wasn't a sport my parents taught me and I was left to catch up to their standards. Sure, there was certainly some of that but mostly I was out there on the weekends with a close group of friends pushing each other into something new and different every single time we went skiing. That ability to progress and do so many different things in a sport like this is so cool. 

How did your photography career begin?

I started by capturing video of myself and friends as we ripped around JHMR as kids. I was given my first cell phone, the Sony Ericsson, which had video capturing and editing capabilities. I began documenting our weekend adventures and then would create the edits right there on my phone. This continued as I began to upgrade my setup and finally invested my summer earnings as a Freshman in High School into a professional DSLR setup. As my equipment got better and better my interests and passion to document with these cameras evolved. 

What's the toughest shot you've successfully gotten? 

The toughest shot may have been one that kind of marked the start of my career in ski photography. It was published in Outside Magazine and then in their 40th-anniversary photo book of their best adventure photographs. The image was of Sam Schwartz as he dropped into one of the classic backcountry lines outside of the JHMR boundary. We had been out there together to ski/photograph it a couple of times before. That season Sam and I were trying to capture some of these classic lines from different perspectives. This line had been skied and photographed for years but we had the idea to get the camera underneath the entrance cliff so that the image showed the tight couloir below and Sam jumping into from above. So all in all this one image took all day for us to capture. From getting out there with ropes and gear so that I could rappel into the couloir, setup, and then get back to the car. But we came away with an image we were both proud of and that is a huge drive for me when photographing. To capture something new that truly shows what these athletes are doing out there. 

Unlocking new perspective. Teton Range, WY. Athlete: Sam Schwartz // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)

What's the toughest shot you've almost gotten? 

The toughest shot I missed was probably last year again with Sam Schwartz. Sam wanted to ski a line off one of the peaks in Grand Teton National Park that he had never skied before and asked me to film/photograph it. We set off into the mountains early one morning with this objective in mind. The temps were well below freezing as the moisture from our exhales were freezing back onto our faces. I can honestly tell you, there haven't been many other times when I was that glad to see the sun when it rose. Soon it was time for our party to split up. Sam and Gavin Hess would continue around the peak to climb the backside where I would head up a different canyon to get into position. 

Literally, just as those two got to the top of the peak our perfect window of blue sky vanished. It wasn't more than 5 minutes that the beautiful clear day relented to a thick grey cloud that obscured my view. It was a little disheartening that our plan failed and that energy spent carrying my larger than normal camera backpack through the cold temps and ripping winds out there was for naught. 

However, I still was able to watch my friends ski a new line to them in the Tetons and after regrouping with them had a great ski out of there. So the original plan failed, but I ski and photograph to be out in the mountains with friends, and for moments like these.  

A special moment from our road trip, immortalized in Carson's camera. Teton Pass, WY. Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)

Last year you get a call from Sterbenz asking you to shoot a week long road trip testing prototype skis with friends living out of his Sprinter... What was it like to capture this experience? 

I am so psyched I was able to capture the start of this brand and I feel so fortunate I was at the beginning of something like this. The initial road trip was an amazing experience on its own, which I wrote about in an earlier post. But the excitement of being apart of something new and a vision I wholeheartedly support is a hard feeling to describe. I can't wait to continue to work with WNDR and see where it goes in the future.

Someone told us you live literally inside Grand Teton National Park. Fact or fiction? 

I am very very fortunate that this is a fact! My grandparents bought the property here in Jackson in 1960 from close family friends. The close family friends originally owned 100 acres that they subdivided into 10-acre parcels and sold to friends. All the while, the surrounding land was bought up or donated to the Park, leaving the 10-acre parcels to become private holdings within the Park. At first, there was only a 50-year-old cabin with no running water or electricity on the property. Over the years power, water, and other cabins were added. This was their summer home to enjoy with their four daughters and son. And now this property has been a gathering place for my family for 60 years.

Most kids studied the back of a cereal box for breakfast. Carson studied lines in Grand Teton National Park from his kitchen table. Photo: Matt Sterbenz (@mattsterbenz)

Describe your ideal touring setup. Any unusual quirks?

I love a relatively lightweight ski that charges downhill. I love light skis but I won't compromise downhill performance for the absolute lightest gear. I want a ski that is the best of both these worlds. 

Camber or Reverse Camber?

Never owning a Reverse Camber ski before my Intention 110s I have really fallen in love with this shape. They are as playful as they are fun to ski but I do think there is a time and place for each. 

How do you prep for a big day in the backcountry?

Packing the night before and preparing is key for me. I try to hydrate a lot the night before and morning of as well as making sure I have some snacks accessible in my pocket. Since it's my job to be photographing when others are resting I take this seriously by setting myself up for success beforehand. 

What are some of your favorite places to ski and why?

I am in love with my home mountains in Jackson Hole. I have been fortunate to ski and photograph other places but I always love coming home. These mountains are just so inspiring and continually remind you that you have only scratched the surface. 

With a family history like Carson's, you can bet he made an exceptional tour guide in Grand Teton National Park. ...And he still managed to snap some shots while leading us up the skin track. FOW: Joey Weamer, Matt Sterbenz, and Dan Gish // Photo: Carson Meyer (@carsonmeyerphoto)

To see more of Carson’s work, check out his website.