Chip Morgan's trek to Nepal just waiting on final Guinness approval
December 16, 2016 by Steve Hill in News with 0 comments
To say that Chip Morgan is well-traveled would be an understatement.
The 29-year-old native of Swainsboro, Georgia – a small town about 175 miles southeast of Atlanta that boasts precisely one disc golf course – has spent the better part of the decade trotting the globe. Whether it is backpacking in New Zealand, or working on a crab fishing boat in Alaska, Morgan has racked up the miles with a true adventurer’s spirit.
With that same spirit, he recently set out in search of a new exploit. And instead of simply traveling, he had his eyes on a world record, which caused him to head east of his southern stomping grounds.
Far, far east.
Morgan just returned from a month-plus sojourn to Nepal, where he hiked to Everest Base Camp with the goal of setting the record for highest round of disc golf played. And it all came together because of the amenities on the route.
“They have these little guest houses, and tea houses, and little villages all along the trial, so there’s no need to carry a stove, or carry your food, or carry a tent,” Morgan said. “Really, you just need a sleeping bag and stuff like that. So originally I was just gonna hike the trail and I was gonna go as lightweight as possible. Then I was thinking, ‘Well, I have so much weight I’m losing,’ and I thought about disc golf.”
There is no course at Everest Base Camp – or anywhere else in Nepal, for that matter, though. So Morgan brought his own, packing a yet-to-be-released traveler basket from Prodigy Disc, along with 12 discs and his other travel needs – sleeping bag, longjohns, multi-tool, etc. – into a 42-pound pack that provided the essentials for his journey.
And when you’re carrying the tray of a disc golf basket outside your pack while hiking through the Himalayas, you’re bound to get noticed.
“I met other individual hikers along the way, and the amount of stress and looks that I got – because all you could see was my pack and you could see the cage on the outside,” Morgan said. “So people thought – I had one person who thought it was something to catch fish with. They thought it was something for paragliding, or a big fan. One lady thought I brought it just to dry out my clothes, because I did use it for that.”
A couple funny looks, though, were the least of Morgan’s concerns. While he said his trip was relatively smooth, he hit a snag when, after 12 days of hiking, he finally got to Base Camp to find that ice caverns made playing there too dangerous.
“It just was too unsafe and we would have lost all the Frisbees, for sure,” Morgan said. “You would have found [them in] all these little nooks and crannies.”
There was a silver lining, though: It only took an hour and a half to trek back to the settlement of Gorak Shep, which provided both plenty of room to play disc golf and – most importantly – plenty of elevation. Morgan said his altimeter read 5,180 meters, or 16,994.75 feet; that gave him more than enough air over the highest permanent disc golf course in the world, New Mexico’s Ski Santa Fe 18-holer, that sits at 11,564 feet. Morgan then grabbed a couple fellow travelers he introduced to the sport, set his basket in six different spots, and teed off from three locations for each, giving him a full round of 18 to submit to Guinness.
“It was really strange,” Morgan said. “It was hard to describe. It was really like playing a different game – one, because I’m not used to putting with a 130-gram putter. That was definitely a weird thing there. Even so, at the altitude a 140-something-gram [Prodigy Disc] F7 would hyzer out. That was crazy too. It definitely made them more stable, and then the glide was really weird, too. As soon as they started losing speed, they kinda would just drop. There was no soft fade or anything like that.”
Now back in the United States, Morgan is simply waiting for Guinness to approve his record, which he said could take some time: He opted not to pay the $1,000 fee for an accelerated approval. Instead, he’ll wait it out and compile the GoPro footage he took of the trip for an eventual release. And, he’ll keep his eyes open for the next adventure.
“Really, I just had to come home and pay of these dadgum student loans, and then after that I’ll be off again,” he said. “If something comes up, I’d totally jump at it. This one just kind of came together, so if I have myself in the position again to do something like that – especially with disc golf – yeah, I’d be all over it.”
This article was updated December 16, 2016 at 11:25 a.m. PST to correct the location and elevation of the world’s highest disc golf course.