Randy Strand finds some new fans in Switzerland
Après means party. Well, no, it doesn’t. It’s actually French for “after,” but in the snowboard world, après is the party after an epic day. My friends Adam Ireland, Tristan “Teton” Brown, Veronica Paulsen, and I had the chance to go to Switzerland to do a short film segment for Backcountry Access and Trew Gear. We were in Verbier–considered one of the best big mountain freeride resorts in the world–for three weeks. We did some amazing riding. We hit some fun jumps, hiked around the Alps, and rode down some incredible couloirs. But I’m not here to tell you about the snowboarding. This is the story of the après.
Back at home in Jackson Hole, après is where we connect with our friends after a rowdy day on the hill. It’s where I try to convince the local band playing at the Mangy Moose to let me hop on stage for a few songs, and where we cheer our glasses in the shared camaraderie of snowboarding. In the Swiss Alps, après is much the same but on an entirely new level. There are dozens of après bars to choose from, each with their own electric energy and stunning views.
Throughout our time there, we explored the Alps and met up with some friends from previous ski trips. One was a local named Mathias, who Teton had met two years prior when he was skiing in Japan on a guided trip (something about an old sponsor, and some important lost footage…you’ll have to ask Teton). Mathias skied with us every day of our trip, showed us the local spots, and introduced us to his crew. He took us to a couloir on the backside of the mountain that we never would have been able to find on our own because getting to it required a 15-minute hike, a traverse around the peak, and a short rock scramble. Mathias’ friends were true locals, and we had a shared love of riding big lines and celebrating afterward, so we immediately all clicked.
“We all speak the language of après and where we come from, après means party.”
On our first day of riding–a beautiful sunny afternoon in the Swiss Alps–the lifts shut down and the après began. We found ourselves at a little log hut on the side of the mountain. From the deck outside there was a 360-degree view of the insane steeps of the Alps. People were clinking beer steins together all around us. A woman was belting out acoustic rock into a microphone, leading the crowd into doing shot skis and jaeger-bombs. “Santé! Bon enculé! Un Deux Trois Quatre! Ma Boucher!” We chanted as everyone threw one back (don’t Google that phrase at work). I looked at my friends and could see we were all thinking the same thing: This is exactly like the Mangy Moose! A few rounds later I found myself on stage with a guitar in my hand. I thought to myself–again–how did I get here?
I told the crowd, “Here’s an original song I wrote in high school.” I started to play the intro to “Simple Man” and the crowd erupted in laughter. It turns out that the Swiss have heard of Lynyrd Skynyrd too. At the height of the chorus I deployed my avalanche airbag on my back, and a woman holding a baby threw her bra on stage. In all seriousness this actually happened: Take a look at the photo. I was on the other side of the world, but felt right at home.
We made some close new friendships in the mountains and at the après bars during our time in Switzerland. On the last night of our trip we found ourselves in Mathias’ home, enjoying local meats, cheeses, and wines and talking into the early morning hours. We vowed to meet up again. He invited us to return to his place in Switzerland any time and we started planning his inevitable first trip to Jackson.
Even halfway around the world, snowboarding and skiing make us more alike than we are different. We all speak the language of après and where we come from, après means party.