Inaugural Outessa Summit set for Kirkwood Mountain Resort |

Inaugural Outessa Summit set for Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Autumn Whitney

After over a year of planning, the day is finally here. REI’s Outessa Summit, held at Kirkwood Mountain Resort from Friday through Sunday, Aug. 19-21, is celebrating its inaugural women’s-only retreat. The weekend getaway features over 200 activity choices, product trials from sponsors, REI trail guides, food, wine and more.

The Outessa Summit has its roots in the observation that many women want to spend more time in the outdoors, but may not have the connections or knowledge to do so.

“If you are that woman who’s saying, ‘I’d like to be outside,’ whether that’s hiking or something more challenging like mountain biking or rock climbing, what is an event that would be for this woman? What does this community need?” said REI outdoor programs manager of events Sally Johnson.

Johnson teamed up with Julia Stamps Mallon, a trail runner and endurance athlete who formerly worked with the company on destination half-marathons.

“Being a mother of two girls, a lot of times we would go out and do crazy fun things and adventure together. Whether it was snow skiing, hiking, backpacking or camping, the kids were always having fun.

“I always heard time and time again from other parents, ‘I would do that if I knew how.’ The ‘if I knew how’ always bothered me,” said Mallon, now co-founder and VP of business development at Outessa.

With a foundation of the type of program they wanted to create, the Outessa team selected Kirkwood Mountain Resort as its first location due to its scenic variety.

“Kirkwood is a beautiful, iconic location. What we were hoping is if you’re going to spend a weekend with us, let’s just add to it the most beautiful location where there’s stand-up paddle available, beautiful trails, and you can see into beautiful vistas,” Johnson said.

REI’s deep-seated history in Northern California also went into the decision to make Kirkwood the inaugural Outessa Summit spot. The company’s location in Berkeley, California, was its second store, and celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. According to Johnson, it is the REI store that has stayed the longest in the same location.

“There’s a rich history there, but we also really wanted this to be one of those weekends that people remember for the rest of their lives. There’s so much beauty [in Kirkwood],” Johnson added.

Women from around the world will travel to the South Shore this weekend to participate in the inaugural summit. Outessa Summit attendees are coming from over 30 states, as well as countries including Switzerland and Japan, according to Mallon.

To register for Outessa, women must be over the age of 18. Cost for the entire three-day event is $799, and includes all meals, over 200 activity choices, a welcome pack of gear valued at over $200, and more. One-day options are also available. Registration closes at midnight on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 18.

The second Outessa Summit is Sept. 9-11 at Powder Mountain near Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is located at 1501 Kirkwood Meadows Drive. For more information, visit