Brendan Borrell

Brendan Borrell

Brendan Borrell writes for Scientific American, Bloomberg Businessweek, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. He lives in Los Angeles.


The Search for the Only Park Ranger Who Was Lost and Never Found

Investigators, family, and friends are still trying to close the case of Paul Fugate, a naturalist at Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument who vanished without a trace in 1980. What keeps them motivated to stick with a mystery that may be unsolvable?

Brendan Borrell
Apr 1, 2021

This UFC Fighter Just Wants to Ride His Hardtail

Patrick Cummins has been fighting in the UFC for the past five years, but the character he cultivates on his Instagram feed is less battle-hardened tough guy and more adventure-loving goofball who loves to ride old-school mountain bikes

John Watson and Brendan Borrell
Aug 6, 2019

Inside the Mind of Thru-Hiking's Most Devious Con Man

For more than two decades, Jeff Caldwell has lured in hikers, couchsurfers, and other women (and they're almost always women), enthralling them with his tales of adventure. Then he manufactures personal crises and exploits their sympathy to rip them off. Our writer corresponded with Caldwell while he was still on the run, and came away with an intimate look at the life of a serial scammer who's found his easy marks in the outdoor community.

Brendan Borrell
Oct 17, 2017

Have Gun, Will Run

Swine flu, supervolcano eruption, zombie attack. Competitors at the Survival Trial, an adventure race in the New Mexico backcountry, come armed to the teeth and ready for anything.

Brendan Borrell
Jun 1, 2017

Just How Dangerous Are Zip Lines?

Accidents on zip lines in Southeast Asia have left Western tourists with lifelong injuries. As adventure parks make their way across the Pacific and open in every U.S. state, the question to ask: Is anyone regulating them?

Brendan Borrell
Feb 28, 2017

The Crazy Hard Boulder Problem That Took Four Years to Send

Finnish climber Nalle Hukkataival made an estimated 4,000 attempts on what's currently the world's toughest bouldering problem before finally conquering it last October. His new film, out next week, documents the quest.

Brendan Borrell
Feb 2, 2017

Is Your Local Chairlift a Death Trap?

Our nation's lifts are at the breaking point. We spent months researching past accidents and aging infrastructure—and found that it's time to act in order to avoid catastrophic failure.

Brendan Borrell
Oct 4, 2016

Why Police Can't Shut Down the Web's Most Infuriating Retailer

It’s hard to believe a Colorado gear shop could outrage so many customers in the age of crowdsourced review sites and marketplaces like Amazon. But 123Mountain, owned and operated by European couple Olivier and Anna Sofia Goumas, has been fending off lawsuits for years. Has their luck finally run out?

Brendan Borrell
Feb 12, 2016

Meet the Most Hated Men in Climbing

The artificial holds and lines devised for gyms and climbing competitions don't just happen—they're created and placed by devious people who want to force you to stretch, contort, curse, fail, and fall. We go behind the scenes with the masterminds who make this booming sport a serious challenge.

Brendan Borrell
Sep 23, 2015

The Frenchman Who Followed McCandless Into Alaska

When François Guenot vanished last summer on a wild and remote Alaskan coastline, many in the state dismissed him as yet another unprepared greenhorn. But a revelatory road trip with François's father and brother revealed he was something special: a tough, soulful wanderer whose story resonates with the grand traditions of the American outdoors.

Brendan Borrell
May 22, 2015