Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Friday, March 29, 2013

Prospectors on the Weather Channel -- Season 1

Mt Antero in May 2013... going to be awhile before anybody gets up there this year to prospect

While I enjoy the show and like seeing some of the prospectors/acquaintances working their digs, the show is really not about prospecting or prospectors. Seems to be more about striking it rich and making big money. I was hoping to see some technique from the prospectors, but thus far it's only about finding gems for their value. The only prospecting on the first show was a guy repelling down a cliff. Prospecting involves time, energy and a lot of patience. Digging a pegmatite vein with a track hoe is not prospecting. Doris may have found $250K of smokys with amazonite, but I'll bet he won't realize that profit for years to come, meanwhile between $50K equipment breakdowns and fuel, he has a lot invested. Digging out a pocket of fluorite found previously is not prospecting. Removing rubble from a site where you previously found aquamarine and finding more is not prospecting. I found it interesting that Busse said he had $3000 worth of aquamarine once it was cut. So he really maybe found $500 worth of aquamarine (5 people all day moving boulders by hand at 13,000ft). One definition from Wikipedia: Prospecting is physical labor, involving traversing (traditionally on foot or on horseback), panning, sifting and outcrop investigation, looking for signs of mineralization. I realize I've only seen one episode, and it wouldn't make good TV to see people hiking around in the mountains all day long finding little to nothing, but so far I haven't seen prospectors prospecting. Still it make good television and I will watch every episode I'm sure.
Need to get out and do my own prospecting... still snow on the front range.

Episode III: My opinion hasn't changed much. Although we are getting a little more "real TV" with arguments made up or not between friends and family members. Merging episodes I & II worked okay jumping back and forth with 10 minute segments. Jumping back and forth with 5 minute segments during the last half hour episode didn't work for me, too choppy. Still I am a faithful watcher. I was with Joe and company when they found the "monster pocket" in August, I'm sure I will like the series a lot more if my discussion with Joe didn't get cut ;-)

Episodes IV&V: Certainly the rock slides on Mt Antero would give me pause before I went walking across the mountain. Good thing it didn't happen during the day. The whole idea of digging into the side of a slowly sliding mountain seems not worth the risk to me. Not sure walking around with a lightning rod is a good idea either. Interesting to see the focus on high-graders/thieves. High-graders is a long used generous term for mineral thieves.  I've noticed from the episodes that Amanda has her claim well marked with discovery point clearly in place. I would guess the thieves were watching Amanda dig from an advantageous lookout spot the day before with field glasses and thought they might get some easy pickings. Amanda has had some claim issues before and was almost taken to court, so she isn't totally innocent either. A couple of boys ripped off Dorris a few years ago doing the same thing, only they came at night and walked off with a pocket that Joe had discovered the day before despite him covering it back up with scree. Saw these fellows trying to sell their ill-gotten gains at the Contin-Tail show in Buena Vista a couple of weeks after the theft. I suspected something was wrong as they were the only dealer with uncleaned/dirty crystals. Their prices were even higher than those quoted on Prospectors! I asked them if they had a claim and where they found the amazonite and they said they didn't have to tell me that (kinda lighted up my radar) , I told them as a collector I would want to know the provenance of any crystal prior to purchase. I walked over to the next booth and listened as they discussed how they should respond to a question like mine. They decided the next person to ask such a question should be answered with the Tarryalls. Not too much amazonite ever found in the Tarryalls boys. I related the story to Joe D and gave him a description. Joe said he suspected the same two guys.
 I hope the show with it's inflated prices doesn't encourage more people to try and gain from other people's hard work as some of the other claim owners may not be so lenient.
 Just heard that the BLM which manages much of Mt Antero is none to happy about the Busse's et. al. rolling hundred pound boulders off their claims to who knows where. Somewhat of a safety concern I suppose. I wonder when they reclamate their claims if they'll have to drag those boulder back up that Mtn where they found them.  Hah

Episode VI: Well, the Busse's in a thundersnow storm on Mt Antero didn't look like much fun. I'm pretty sure the risk Frederer is taking to get crystals is not worth it. The show referenced some of the crystals he found years ago down the worm hole. You can check out the picture I posted on 6/19/11 titled Topaz Hunting in the Tarryalls to see one of the large smokys.
See: ( I heard second hand that Rich shopped the large crystals extensively, even to the Smithsonian, but nobody wanted them for near the price he expected. I believe Newmont Mining(Cripple Creek/Victor) assisted Rich in donating the crystal to the Florrisant museum. The museum is small, but has a nice crystal collection from the local area. Nice to see Frederd looking out for Dorris. Many claim owners look out for each other. The topaz from Joe's claim are truly beautiful. I have been going to that claim on and off for over 10 years on club field trips. Walt Rubeck used to own the claim, but died a few years ago. He donated a number of very nice crystals to the visitor/welcome center in Cripple Creek. These crystals are worth checking out if you are in the area. This new visitors center is just outside of town near the Mollie Kathleen gold mine. Joe lets folks on his claim from time to time either on open dates (check his web site at Pinnacle 5) or through local clubs (supervised of course).  I laugh when I recall a couple of years ago I mentioned to Joe that my wife and I were thinking of doing an article on rock hounding for AAA magazine. See ( Joe was concerned that the publicity might generate too many interested folks in taking unsupervised samples of topaz from his claim. Another good show. If you want to watch a good prospecting show, check out Ice Cold Gold on Animal Planet. They do real prospecting!

Episode VII:  Glad to see Frederer knows when to quit. Seems to me he needs some real dynamite to blow the granite overhang off the mountain. Maybe too expensive to do it that way though he's a bonafide hard rock miner. Where there is one topaz maybe there are more up the shaft. I did like the way he used the proctologist's camera.  No polyps, just a blue topaz. Back to Mt Antero. More weather moving in on folks not finding much. If Amanda can get $20-$50 a piece for those smokys, I'd like to know where. Kind of surprised Steve didn't put his aquamarine encrusted granite off to the side, though I've lost specimens at digs that way too. Seems to me Joe Dorris has a nice amazonite smoky pocket to show off on one of the last episodes, maybe some more topaz as well. We shall see.... stay tuned. Amanda made the news here again. Evidently while she was camping near Crystal Park. Her former "friend" and deputy sheriff from the city of Fountain got himself arrested by confronting the duo and threatening to kill her current boyfriend (Travis). At least that's how the local news is telling it. Oh well, this is a rock hounding blog not the society page.

Episodes VIII&IX: Finally we see episode 8 and finish the series with 9. I was hoping to be in episode 8, as I was there when Joe D. was pulling out amazonites with smokys, and I was even interviewed. It was fun to see Joe take over the dig from Tim and pull out the amazonite smoky grouping. Just before I arrived at their claim they had found the Bevino twinned amazonite crystal along with a nice amazonite combo all pictured in episode 8.  Then in episode 9 they went back to the same pegmatite and pulled out crystals as big as Tim's head. What an experience that must have been. By my figuring Joe had a $1M+ year in crystal finds. I would guess he sold the best at the Tucson Show. Brancato found little at Mt Antero, but did seem to think he found some nice amazonite at Lake George. It was hard to see the quality of the items he found as they were dirty and seemed damaged. I was a little bemused over Steve's theology and rock hounding. Good to know someone understands God so well. Not sure why Busse's friend from TN wandered off down the mountain without telling anyone, he should have known better. The biggest surprise in episode 9 was Amanda thinking her green fluorite was topaz. It seemed pretty clear to me on my low definition TV that the etched crystal was a fluorite. Nice green though. Maybe the misidentification was for TV hype.

Stay tuned: as Joe Dorris brought his track hoes in this year there were videographers with him every step of the way. I know because my friend got stuck behind them on a dirt road leading to their claim.

Sept 2013 Update:
Seems only Joe Doris is playing by the rules... not surprising to me. Author makes all the crews look like a bunch of dopes, and maybe they are (except for Joe). If you find minerals on National Forest ground you can't sell them unless properly permitted. If you are not permitted and go on a nationally aired TV program you will get in trouble.

See Prospectors on the Weather Channel -- Season II for my latest opinions