I know festivals from music festivals. So when I heard there was a Women’s Summer Festival at the Zugspitze, an outdoor sports event dedicated to women who love the open air and an active life, I got very excited! With the Outdoorchicks, we headed to the south for three adventure-packed days of outdoor sports.

For a very long time, I believed I was the only girl for whom outdoor sports doesn’t equal surf and yoga. So I got very excited to meet some like-minded girls, who love roughing it up and pushing themselves to their physical and mental boundaries.

The festival itself had a great mixture of disciplines for all fitness and adrenaline levels – from absolute beginners to pretty fit and adventurous athletes. My favorite activity was the motorbike tour, which I didn’t get to even go on, because I don’t have a motorcycle license (yet). But there were also technical trainings in mountain biking, via ferrata on all different levels, various hikes, canyoning and even some e-bike tours – you’ve got to try these, they make you feel like you have superpowers!

The festival grounds were nestled under the monumental Zugspitze Mountain where we could meet, borrow and test some gear, gather for tours, and get our girl on with massages and by having our hair done. Cliché you say? A hundred percent!

(@Anne Kaiser Photography)

At first, this kind-of disappointed me. Was there an expectation that girls are supposed to always look great, even while miming a caterpillar in a wetsuit, being tied to a rope and sliding through waterfalls? And then I realized – No! You are absolutely right – why can’t we be hardcore, rough, tough and strong, while at the same time being feminine, vulnerable and beautiful? I’m not suggesting hiking up a mountain in high heels, but having the privilege to slip into whichever role we feel suits us best at any given time. Can we be feminine and beautiful, while at the same time being respected as technical, hardcore athletes? Let’s work on that!

I believe the work starts with ourselves – let’s keep the men aside for a second – do we respect ourselves as hardcore athletes while at the same time allowing ourselves to be feminine? Or are we trying to compete – and be like men?

There was a very important moment at the end of the festival when one of the women organizers got up on the mic and asked for “two strong men” to help her carry something. This is exactly what I mean – if we do not even give ourselves credit, how can we expect it from anyone else?

The one thing missing for me at the festival was more female guides. I would have loved to have some women show me the ropes in the canyon and lead me on a sunrise hike. Having women guide, coach and take groups of other women onto the mountains, would have made me feel a lot more empowered! Maybe it is really difficult to find female guides, but to me it implies that in the end we cannot do it alone.

I would have loved to have seen some female role models who have fought their way to the top. Women who show us that it is possible! Pops to the MTB girl guides, you rocked!
Words and Pictures: Jessica Zumpfe (unless otherwise indicated) 

Jessica Zumpfe is one of the few professional female outdoor sports photographers. She is always searching for new adventures, the further outside of her comfort zone and the more adrenaline, the better. She focusses on capturing authenticity and the connection between people and nature. Having grown up on two continents, she is based between Berlin and Cape Town.

She took part in the Women’s Summer Festival with the girls of Outdoorchicks, a European pink community, which involves numerous outdoor sports female enthusiasts with a great desire to share professional experiences, to grow and constantly improve and empower through the practice of different disciplines.