girls' adventure getaway

The REI Outessa Summit is the ultimate weekend trip for women who like to play outside. Photo: Courtesy of @ashleelangholz/REI Outessa Summit

You and your girlfriends are hanging out in the mountains with s’mores and red wine – and comfortable seating – recounting the day’s events.

You did yoga with Olivia Hsu, went climbing with Heidi Wirtz, got behind the lens with Chris Burkard and cycled with Kathryn Bertine. You learned how to cook killer meals … in the woods. And you ate killer meals … in the woods.

Flash forward to this time tomorrow and you’re looking back on another unbelievable full day of adventure.

This is not a drill. This is real life. Or, it could be if you attended the REI Outessa Summit later this summer.

REI teamed up with Eventus Outdoors and more than 30 of your favorite outdoor brands to create the Outessa Summit series. Outessa offers an entirely new kind of weekend getaway for women who appreciate artisanal, locally sourced cuisine as much as they appreciate strategically calloused hands and clay-encrusted boots.

The three-day vacation packages include more than 200 different outdoor activities and classes with expert guides and professional athletes — intimate classes, with five or fewer people. Registration also covers lodging (prices vary by accommodation) and outstanding eats (and drinks) in truly awesome locations: California’s Kirkwood Resort and Utah’s Powder Mountain.

Outessa provides all of the gear you’ll need for the weekend and sends you home with $250 worth of your own — and provides a few opportunities to win even more.

Outessa Founder and VP of Business Development Julia Stamps Mallon is an Olympic-level marathon and trail runner with an ardent appreciation for “anything that takes her outside.” She and her co-founder, Bart Davis, were putting on marathons and half marathons throughout North America when the idea for Outessa hit them.

Both have young daughters for whom 10-mile hikes and paddling adventures are “just what they know,” but they felt like the exception, and they were moved to create an event that would help women develop well-rounded passions for the outdoors like they themselves harbored.

Outessa not only gives you a chance to hone your skills, but to seize the experiences for which you’ve been longing. It also presents the opportunity to try any number of new activities with no obligations and zero risk.

“[Whatever your activity of choice], there’s always one person who got you out there and showed you the ropes — otherwise, it’s hard to say, ‘I’m going to get into skiing … by myself.’ You need to have someone to teach you, nurture you and let you know that you’re safe while still challenging you, so that you have growth,” Stamps Mallon says.

Outessa provides that someone, and he or she will pretty much be the best in the game.

“Say you [are interested in] trail running," she says. "Now, you have the top trail runner in the U.S., Magdalena Boulet – she's going to be there."

“I absolutely cannot wait to join an Outessa Summit," Boulet says. "It combines so many activities that I’m passionate about: new adventures, good food, strong women and beautiful places. Exploring new trails with these awesome women will be a blast, and I know I’m going to learn just as much as I teach. My heart rate is going up just thinking about it.”

“I look at Outessa as being a ‘macro’ event — a big picture of [everything that is possible] outdoors — and a way to find a kinship with other females. I think that’s the important part of all of this: The community that people are going to walk away with,” Stamps Mallon says.

Whether you’re seeking that community or want to solidify your own, Outessa (which welcomes individuals as well as groups) is a great place to do it.

“You know that feeling you get when you go out with a bunch of your girlfriends, who are all at about the same level, and you just have the most amazing time?” Stamps Mallon says. “Whether it’s hiking or surfing, you’re just out there and there’s no competitiveness – it’s just about having fun with your girlfriends.” That’s what Outessa aspires to re-create.

“We thought that this would be an awesome event for so many different women from different walks of life, to be able to come together in one location and be able to play like they were 10 years old all over again. For them to share that experience, and then hopefully leave rejuvenated and inspired to look for other opportunities to continue that passion,” Stamps Mallon says.

“I think it’s super important to help women and girls get outside,” says adventure climber and Outessa athlete Heidi Wirtz. “The realizations that they can be independent in their outdoor pursuits and that it’s fun translate to more confidence, empowerment and self love. It also encourages a connection with nature and stewardship of our amazing planet.”

2016 REI Outessa Summit Dates:
Kirkwood Resort near Lake Tahoe, California, from August 19 to 21
Powder Mountain near Salt Lake City, Utah from September 9 to 11

To learn more and register, visit

More from GrindTV

This CA clothing company is doing its part to help national parks

7 of the most inspirational surfers on the planet

9 helpful tips so you can afford your next adventure