Right after weathering a severe winter storm at 13,000 feet on Colorado's Mount Democrat, adventure-traveler Gordon Hunsucker immediately plunged himself into another extreme challenge.
He will lead a disaster relief team to Mozambique, the African nation devastated the past month by heavy flooding.
Hunsucker, a 1975 Carson High School graduate, plans to leave Reno March 19 with a planeload of volunteers he's gathering around the country. Carson Country residents are encouraged to sign up for the three-week trip to Mozambique.
"I personally challenge anybody from the Class of '75 to join us," Hunsucker said in an interview Sunday while taking a short break from the endless chores in assembling this relief mission.
Hunsucker's team will set up clinics to treat as many flood victims as possible. Some volunteers will help distribute relief items delivered to Mozambique. Others will help keep children occupied.
"It's very hard work and you're exposed to very bad conditions, like death, starvation and suffering children," Hunsucker said. "This is not a vacation. One of the things you have to do is be ready not to stay in hotel and you will probably get wet."
Hunsucker owns Adventure Quest, an adventure travel outfit he started three years ago in Fraser, Colo., which he moved to Reno at the start of the year. He takes people on travel varying from soft adventure to extreme adventure in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
Hunsucker typically spends six months on the road either leading or accompanying his firm's adventure trips.
"This was not designed as a desk job," he said.
Before moving to Colorado in 1989, Hunsucker managed casinos and worked as an enforcement officer for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Mozambique is his second disaster relief effort. It is a nonprofit operation that he does while essentially shutting down Adventure Quest.
A year ago, Hunsucker spent New Year's in Honduras, helping that nation recover from Hurricane Mitch. He took a team of 40 people, including doctors, nurses and non-medical volunteers, to the most devastated areas in Honduras. He said they were able to give medical attention to some 10,000 people from Dec. 27, 1998, to Jan. 21, 1999.
They also helped rebuild a bridge and distribute relief items stacked up at the airport. That's how Hunsucker got involved in the first place.
"A friend called me and said they have supplies at the airport (in Honduras) but there was no one there to distribute them," Hunsucker said. "We specialize in getting people into areas. I felt like we could do something to help. We are putting our skills to a more charitable use.
"A lot of people watch the news and hear about a disaster and say, 'That's a shame,' but they don't do anything about it. There was a lot of personal satisfaction" in going to Honduras.
The upcoming Mozambique trip came about last week after he was nearly blown off Mount Democrat while sharing an extreme adventure with Angela Stevens. She is an independent national disaster relief coordinator who had heard of Hunsucker's efforts in Honduras.
Stevens suggested he and she team up and head to Mozambique. Hunsucker immediately started planning.
"The conditions in Mozambique are almost identical to what was happening in Honduras," Hunsucker said. "People are homeless, in need of medical attention and they have no food. We're going to see a lot of supplies shipped over there but not enough manpower to distribute them. Nothing happens without bodies."
Hunsucker learned lessons in Honduras that he is applying to the Africa trip.
"Last time we organized all of our supplies here and transported them when we could have bought them there," he said. "This time we will purchase everything in Johannesburg. That makes it so much easier. Once you're there, everything you need comes out of the woodwork."
Hunsucker said he also learned that bringing along a psychologist is ideal to help victims through the trauma of a disaster.
Hunsucker said it will be a 20-hour flight from Reno to either New York or Atlanta and then on to London before heading south to Johannesburg, South Africa. Volunteers joining him will not have to pay airfare or for tents or food.
Ground transport will then take the team the 300 or so miles east to neighboring Mozambique.
Hunsucker said it has not been determined yet in which region his team will work but details should be worked out by the time the plane leaves Reno.
"When we decided to do this (for Honduras), none of us had done this before," Hunsucker said. "By the time we got back, we were he experts. We had numerous speaking engagements in the Denver area."
What: Disaster relief to Mozambique
Who: Gordon Hunsucker, Carson High '75
When: Leaving Reno on March 19
Who else: Carson Country residents may join the relief team as volunteers
How: call Hunsucker toll-free at (888) 782-4991 or e-mail at email@example.com
Type of volunteer: Doctors and nurses are sought but virtually anybody willing to work hard and endure miserable conditions may apply.
Type of work: set up medical clinics, distribute relief items, help the locals.
How long: Three weeks but shorter trips can be arranged.
Deadline for volunteers to sign up: March 13.
Cost to volunteers: "Not much," said Hunsucker, who has complete details of what volunteers need to bring.
Other ways to help: Donate money to Hunsucker's effort via Evergreen Church of Christ, 29997 Buffalo Park Road, Evergreen, CO 80439. Make check out to Adventure Quest Cyclone Eline Disaster Relief Team. Phone: Ruth at (303) 674-6459.
Also, medical supplies and food items such as rice and dry beans may be donated. Call Hunsucker for drop-off points.