Meet Our Tribe


Trailblazers. Soul friends. Lovers of all things wild and free.
Our inner circle is a powerhouse of authenticity and vulnerability. We are living and breathing this work and feel a deep calling in our souls to share these tools with women around the world who are curious and willing to experiment with the adventure of their life.


Jen Whalen
Founder & Guide

Jen Whalen | Founder, True North Adventures

Jen is a self-proclaimed life lover who genuinely appreciates the gift of each day. Some people mistakenly judge her smile and possibility mindset, as a young naiveté, but spend some time together and you’ll find her seasoned experience offers a much deeper correlation. As a child she was fascinated with understanding the world around her and searched tirelessly to find her place in it. From getting sober at 19, to years spent working and wandering overseas, her path has taken her down many wild and often bumpy roads. Love, awakening and a deep commitment to making the world a better place have continued to be guiding lights throughout her adventures.

Over the years Jen has worked with hundreds of people as an experiential educator and has developed a loving, intentional style that supports and inspires people to fully engage their own adventure. She has a MA in Spiritual Psychology and has received extensive training in outdoor education through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Jen and her family transferred back to San Diego this past year. It has been a big adjustment from the day-to- day adventures they experienced in Alaska, but her 3 and 5 year old daughters are overwhelmingly stoked about the possibilities of bare feet and sunshine. Although she enjoyed occasional guiding work with the National Park Service and Sitka Conservation Society during her extended maternity leave, Jen is excited to be back in the groove of regular coaching and retreats with True North Adventures. She’s loving all the ways these DAREful adventures are nudging her own climbing and surfing experiences to the far edge of her stretch zone and feels a deep sense of gratitude for being able to guide women in such playful AND transformational work.




Leah Joannis
Guide & Chef Extraordinaire

Jen Whalen | Founder, True North Adventures

Lea has been our magnificent French chef and logistics coordinator since the very first True North Adventures retreat in the spring of 2010. From business strategy, to international sales within the outdoor industry and marketing for luxury goods to client relations for a Wealth management firm, she has honed her skills in a handful of different industries. However the way she deeply honors human connections, quality and beauty by design are obvious attributes that come forward regardless of the job at hand.

She has spent the last 5 years in Wyoming – exploring remote locations by way of hunting, fishing, rafting, kayaking, sailing and trekking … coming closer to nature and providing for herself. Genuinely interested in learning about others, and herself, she has a contagious positive energy and endearing curiosity. She is passionate for travel and adventure, and admittedly addicted to really good food and sustainability.

As a guide, she has supported others in expanding their horizons using different exploratory mediums like climbing, rafting and skiing in ways that have really brought her into the present unlike anything else. She says, “I believe it allows for magic to happen. This is the “in between” where we are more rigorous in our creation and abandon ourselves. As we let go – we soften. I will meet you there.”




Ruthi Solari
Guide

Jen Whalen | Founder, True North Adventures

In 2009, Ruthi saw an opportunity to improve the emergency food distribution system in the United States by expanding the focus beyond simply filling empty stomachs. Inspired by the concept that food is medicine, she founded SuperFood Drive to ensure that nutrient dense SuperFoods are accessible to all individuals, regardless of income level. Ruthi is a Clinical Nutritionist with a Masters in Mind Body Medicine. Ruthi’s professional experience includes corporate wellness, individual and community nutrition, public health initiatives, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping for neighborhood food access and food system advocacy. We originally met Ruthi on a True North Adventures retreat in Joshua Tree in 2011.

Over the years she’s been a co-conspirator in curriculum design as well as supporting and inspiring us in tuning into what deeply nourishes our body at every level. Ruthi recently returned from living in Switzerland and is now adventuring in California with a new little hiking buddy by her side. Ruthi brought her daughter, Sage (now 18 months), on her first overnight backcountry trip when she was 5 months old. On being a mother, Ruthi laughs and says it feels a bit like a long distant hike: constant exhaustion, daily inspiration and nothing as delicious as a rest day with a good view. Ruthi is grateful to be in community with other women adventurers who inspire each other to have fun, support each other, take risks, and remain wild!  We’re excited to be back in the same state again and look forward to having her on our next Joshua Tree climbing retreat this fall.




Kat Heldman
Guide

Jen Whalen | Founder, True North Adventures

Kat is a climber, mountaineer, runner, and back country skier.  She is an accomplished real-estate agent and loving mother of her now 23-year-old son Zaid. She loves being outdoors whenever and wherever she can.  En route to climb the Himalayan peak, Gangchenpo her mountaineering team was caught in the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake and avalanche. Surviving, after being trapped for days just above the buried village of Lang Tang she returned home and has worked tirelessly since with rebuilding efforts in the region. Her harrowing story of rescue is featured in, Nightmare on Everest a BBC documentary about the Nepal earthquake.  As a backcountry guide, mentor and outdoor teacher for Girls Inc., Big City Mountaineers, Camp Opportunity and the YMCA, she has provided leadership and outdoor adventures for all ages.  She is dedicated to introducing others to her beloved mountain adventures.

Kat and Jen first met while working with Outdoor Outreach in 2007. They took a team of 6, 15 year-old girls on a weeklong backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park.  Despite all the challenges, they realized instantly that they made a great team and have been enjoying outdoor projects both personally and professionally together ever since. They are currently co-facilitating the women’s lead climbing workshop Lead Darefully. 

Join the Adventure

Regardless of where you’re living, there are plenty of ways to join the conversation that is evolving daily among our tribe. The intention behind any of the offerings we’re writing or posting about here is to playfully uplift, inspire and reawaken the curious seeker in all of us. So pull up a comfy spot and join us at the virtual campfire… there is magic in the air and the fun is just beginning. Check out the latest blog posts below!

Jen is a self-proclaimed life lover who genuinely appreciates the gift of each day. Some people mistakenly judge her smile and possibility mindset, as a young naiveté, but spend some time together and you’ll find her seasoned experience offers a much deeper correlation. As a child she was fascinated with understanding the world around her and searched tirelessly to find her place in it. From getting sober at 19, to years spent working and wandering overseas, her path has taken her down many wild and often bumpy roads. Love, awakening and a deep commitment to making the world a better place have continued to be guiding lights throughout her adventures. Over the years Jen has worked with hundreds of people as an experiential educator and has developed a loving, intentional style that supports and inspires people to fully engage their own adventure. She has a MA in Spiritual Psychology and has received extensive training in outdoor education through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Jen and her family transferred back to San Diego this past year. It has been a big adjustment from the day-to- day adventures they experienced in Alaska, but her 3 and 5 year old daughters are overwhelmingly stoked about the possibilities of bare feet and sunshine. Although she enjoyed occasional guiding work with the National Park Service and Sitka Conservation Society during her extended maternity leave, Jen is excited to be back in the groove of regular coaching and retreats with True North Adventures. She’s loving all the ways these DAREful adventures are nudging her own climbing and surfing experiences to the far edge of her stretch zone and feels a deep sense of gratitude for being able to guide women in such playful AND transformational work.
Lea has been our magnificent French chef and logistics coordinator since the very first True North Adventures retreat in the spring of 2010. From business strategy, to international sales within the outdoor industry and marketing for luxury goods to client relations for a Wealth management firm, she has honed her skills in a handful of different industries. However the way she deeply honors human connections, quality and beauty by design are obvious attributes that come forward regardless of the job at hand.

She has spent the last 5 years in Wyoming – exploring remote locations by way of hunting, fishing, rafting, kayaking, sailing and trekking … coming closer to nature and providing for herself. Genuinely interested in learning about others, and herself, she has a contagious positive energy and endearing curiosity. She is passionate for travel and adventure, and admittedly addicted to really good food and sustainability.

As a guide, she has supported others in expanding their horizons using different exploratory mediums like climbing, rafting and skiing in ways that have really brought her into the present unlike anything else. She says, “I believe it allows for magic to happen. This is the “in between” where we are more rigorous in our creation and abandon ourselves. As we let go – we soften. I will meet you there.”

In 2009, Ruthi saw an opportunity to improve the emergency food distribution system in the United States by expanding the focus beyond simply filling empty stomachs. Inspired by the concept that food is medicine, she founded SuperFood Drive to ensure that nutrient dense SuperFoods are accessible to all individuals, regardless of income level. Ruthi is a Clinical Nutritionist with a Masters in Mind Body Medicine. Ruthi’s professional experience includes corporate wellness, individual and community nutrition, public health initiatives, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping for neighborhood food access and food system advocacy. We originally met Ruthi on a True North Adventures retreat in Joshua Tree in 2011. Over the years she’s been a co-conspirator in curriculum design as well as supporting and inspiring us in tuning into what deeply nourishes our body at every level. Ruthi recently returned from living in Switzerland and is now adventuring in California with a new little hiking buddy by her side. Ruthi brought her daughter, Sage (now 18 months), on her first overnight backcountry trip when she was 5 months old. On being a mother, Ruthi laughs and says it feels a bit like a long distant hike: constant exhaustion, daily inspiration and nothing as delicious as a rest day with a good view. Ruthi is grateful to be in community with other women adventurers who inspire each other to have fun, support each other, take risks, and remain wild!  We’re excited to be back in the same state again and look forward to having her on our next Joshua Tree climbing retreat this fall.

Kat is a climber, mountaineer, runner, and back country skier.  She is an accomplished real-estate agent and loving mother of her now 23-year-old son Zaid. She loves being outdoors whenever and wherever she can.  En route to climb the Himalayan peak, Gangchenpo her mountaineering team was caught in the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake and avalanche. Surviving, after being trapped for days just above the buried village of Lang Tang she returned home and has worked tirelessly since with rebuilding efforts in the region. Her harrowing story of rescue is featured in, Nightmare on Everest a BBC documentary about the Nepal earthquake.  As a backcountry guide, mentor and outdoor teacher for Girls Inc., Big City Mountaineers, Camp Opportunity and the YMCA, she has provided leadership and outdoor adventures for all ages.  She is dedicated to introducing others to her beloved mountain adventures.

Kat and Jen first met while working with Outdoor Outreach in 2007. They took a team of 6, 15 year-old girls on a weeklong backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park.  Despite all the challenges, they realized instantly that they made a great team and have been enjoying outdoor projects both personally and professionally together ever since. They are currently co-facilitating the women’s lead climbing workshop Lead Darefully. 

Join the Adventure

Regardless of where you’re living, there are plenty of ways to join the conversation that is evolving daily among our tribe. The intention behind any of the offerings we’re writing or posting about here is to playfully uplift, inspire and reawaken the curious seeker in all of us. So pull up a comfy spot and join us at the virtual campfire… there is magic in the air and the fun is just beginning.