Brother adventurers reach new heights with climbing show pilot

Charles Liu

The Wright brothers flew planes. The Coen brothers direct movies. The Bargo brothers climb mountains.

Branndon and Greg Bargo have tackled expeditions in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Now they are developing a PBS show concept called “The Highpointers,” which will follow them as they scale the highest geographical points in all 50 states. They plan to shoot a pilot episode this summer and hope to release it in the fall. 

Branndon said they fell in love with adventuring on a 2006 expedition during which they climbed Mt. McKinley in Alaska and biked 4,000 miles down the West Coast. The brothers, who are originally from Austin, filmed their journey along the way and released it on YouTube as “Summit to Sea Expedition.”

“That was the beginning of [us] trying to figure out what kind of big expedition we could go do every year and how we could make a living doing it,” Branndon said. 

Following the expedition, the brothers continued to adventure, scaling the three highest peaks in Africa and recently climbing the seven tallest mountains in Central America.

Both Branndon, 40, and Greg, 33, said their journeys require extensive planning and teamwork. Branndon refers to himself as “the big picture” guy, brainstorming their conquests, while Greg is more technical, planning out the details of their trips. They said their partnership succeeds thanks to their compatibility.

“We know how to kind of feed off each other, to read the cues,” Greg said. “If I see [Branndon is] struggling, I’ll try to pick up the slack.”

Although Branndon still lives in Austin, and Greg now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his family, the two still collaborate often.In 2011, the brothers became consultants and guests on “The Daytripper,” a Lone Star Emmy-winning travel show about Texas hosted by Chet Garner, a TV personality and producer. The show explores food, culture and activities in various locations around the state, and the brothers join in during Garner’s more daring exploits.

“We do some stuff on the show that 99 percent of the public would find challenging, but to them it’s another day in the office,” Garner said. “So when we’re climbing a mountain, they can focus on the story of the adventure, rather than whether or not they can huff themselves up the mountain.”

Garner said their collaborations on “The Daytripper” inspired “The Highpointers,” which will also show the Bargo brothers learning about the people and culture in each state they visit.

Since not every state in the U.S. has a tremendous peak to summit, the Bargo brothers have shaped the show to be less about conquering extreme obstacles and more about showing challenges that viewers who aren’t experienced climbers can overcome. 

“We love taking people outdoors and putting them, and ourselves, in challenging situations,” Greg said. “We know that’s how you’re going to grow.”

Branndon said they hope “The Highpointers” will inspire viewers to conquer their own obstacles in life, whether that be scaling a peak or losing weight. 

“A peak, a high point — that’s just a metaphor,” Branndon said. “We want to show people their potential. What’s their high point?”

Learn more about the Bargo brothers at their website

Correction: The Bargo brothers are planning on shooting a pilot for a PBS show concept.