Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Prospectors on the Weather Channel -- Season II (Updated thru Episode 5)

Season II Episode 1: Last year I was troubled by the lack of prospecting on a prospecting show. Finally a little prospecting from Rich Fretterd a hand digger was discussed and demonstrated in the show. Rich also mentioned he got over $50K for the crystals he found the previous year. Hope Rich declared the income on his tax return as well as he declared it on national TV. Rich cut his day short due to a rifle shot or two, this is not uncommon in the National Forest, I often wear bright colors to be seen, as I'm pretty sure I won't be scaring any crystals away. Dwayne Hall a newcomer to the show was also seen doing some real prospecting on Mt White. Can't say as I've ever taken a car jack up a mountain to hold boulders in place while I dug though. The premise of his digging is that he is showing a young whippersnapper the ropes as Dwayne is 55 years old. My digging partner is 66 and he often leads the charge up the mountain. I will say it appeared Dwayne found some nice aquamarine unlike the encrusted junk Amanda was finding.
Well I'm guessing Amanda is wearing a camisole to increase ratings. Perhaps her attire will increase the teen age boy viewership. Her claim is on a nightmare of Antero talus. Dwayne's claim on Mt White appears little better. I'm a little surprised the Weather Channel doesn't have some kind of disclaimer about the risks portrayed in the show, other than just cold and lightning. It sure would be a shame if some greenhorn went up Mt Antero and got himself killed in a rockslide due to the show's hype.
Despite equipment issues Joe Dorris continues to pull out fabulously colored blue green amazonite off his Smoky Hawk claim. When I first saw some of his crystals I thought surely he was doing something to enhance the color. One visit to Joe's claim and I saw the blue/green colored crystals come up out of the ground for myself. Truly beautiful-- but the prices are too high. Joe may sell an occasional top-notch specimen to a big time collector, but I'm sure he holds lots of his crystals in reserve for years. I'm guessing the theme of getting rich on crystals will be a continuing theme of the show. Wonder what new things we'll see this year. A friend of mine said he found a large fluorite on a field trip to Fretterd's claim and was filmed with it, it would be fun to see Frank on TV. Nice not to have Broncato spouting stupid aphorisms in episode 1, probably see him in episode 2 though. Stay tuned.

Episode 2: I knew we wouldn't be able to keep Brancato away for long. In this episode he sacrificed his blood to Mt Antero to get more aquamarines, put on his aquamarine cammo gear so he could sneak up on the crystals. All to no avail.  He then regressed to cursing when his expert techniques resulted in nothing. Still I have to give him credit for trying. I'm pretty sure the high grader they portrayed on his claim was also a plant, though I have no doubt that the hype created by the show has increased claim jumpers this past summer.
I don't know about team Travis and Amanda. I don't buy Amanda's excuse for not having safety gear, especially a hard hat. Wet granite is also a great conductor of electricity. Putting a tarp up and working in the rock during a thunderstorm is not a good idea especially with the possibility of lightning causing rockslides or electrocution. Recommend team Amanda and Travis check out some lightning safety information Safety  If Amanda would put some clothes on she wouldn't be so cold in her ice cave.
Fretterd keeps working away. I'm guessing my friend that I mentioned in episode I post got cut from this episode. The fluorite depicted was found during a Lake George club field trip and left in place until the videographers got there and then Rich took over and pulled it out of the ground. Evidently he offered to sell it to the individual working with him that day. I was a little surprised to hear Brian Lees refer to the crystal as a hog turd, I guess he speaks from experience though as he mined for awhile before he became a dealer. I would have thought Fretterd would have had a better idea of the value of the fluorite than he apparently did.
Joe Dorris keeps pulling out the good stuff. Loved the 12 inch smoky with amazonite. Now I know why I haven't seen any of the icon pocket material for sale, still cleaning and hoping to sell the whole shebang to a museum... makes sense I guess. Didn't care for Lee's comment again that Joe is really lucky. I think Joe is a hard working, smart prospector who through persistence, experience and a lot of upfront cash is realizing his investment.

Episode 3: Another episode, with more amazonite, smokys, aquamarine and topaz crystals with nearly nonexistent safety precautions. On Mt Antero we get our first look at the Busse family this season. Seems like they got a fairly late start if July truly is the first time they’ve mined the mountain this season. I’m more fearful of lightning than I am of the scree on the side of the mountain. All it would take for me to get off the mountain is one rumble of thunder. Busse’s got some nicer aquamarine. I liked Brians description of transparent, translucent and opaque aquamarine. They seem to know their way around the outdoors. The story of Rich Fretterd finding Ed Over’s topaz pocket has been reverberating amongst Colorado collectors for over a year now. I got my first glimpse of the stuff last fall when I believe Rich had commissioned Joe Dorris to sell some. I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the topaz, though the color was unique. I noted poor terminations and much internal fracturing. Perhaps the material that came out of the pocket this year was of better quality. The topaz certainly seemed more colorful. While the exact spot of the Tribute pocket is a secret the general location is not. If you want to know more about the Tribute pocket, you can look up the Lake George Mineral Club’s newsletter from a few months ago and read all about it. Rich’s regard for safety seems nearly nonexistent, but at least he is risking his life for something of value unlike Broncato’s chips of amazonite. No hog turds for Rich in this episode. Speaking of Broncato, he went from a garage sale to picking mushrooms and then finally digging for crystals. No safety equipment at Henrick’s dig either. I always wear a long sleeve shirt when digging. The quartz fragments will not only shred your hands, but also your arms… I would have thought Steve would have figured that out by now. The thunderstorm the producers were playing up a Joe Dorris’ Smoky Hawk claim near Lake George were often mixed with shots of Mt Antero. Seemed the video was all mixed up. At one point the announcer says the storm is moving up out of the south to the north and then says later the same storm is moving towards Mt Antero which is SW of Lake George. Storms initiate over the continental divide (Mt Antero) and then move east towards Lake George. Stay tuned for next week’s death defying feats on Mt Antero! We need to get to Joe's Topaz claim in the Tarryalls too.

Episode IV: Maybe this episode should be titled "Claim Jumpers". Claim jumpers at Lake George, Mt White and Mt Antero were all featured to a minor degree, not sure how well these cheaters/thieves are prospering, but I’d guess the show with all the inflated prices for the crystals is bringing out the cockroaches. I’d bet a lot of the claim jumpers are probably locals inspired by the show’s claims of making big money. Removing claim posts, cutting locks and digging out crystals are the actions of a few desperate get rich quick folk. I’ve helped repost claims that were vandalized by others last year, I guess I’m resolved that it goes with the territory. I’ve never been ripped off though either. Was hoping to see some prospecting in this episode, but I saw more target shooting than anything else. I suppose the target shooting is done to discourage would be high-graders. Joe D. blowing up the “cap rock” was somewhat entertaining. I thought this kind of explosive mining was done electronically these days, so I was a bit surprised to see a fuse lit with a match. Joe sure finds some outstanding specimens, I would love to find fluorite with amazonite, but am not willing to purchase them for $5K a piece. Broncato provides us with some entertainment. I doubt he will find much gold. Even if he did it looks like it would have to be milled from the rock…no small expense. He can’t seem to settle down on one thing, I wonder how long before he will return to mushroom hunting. Dwayne Hall and Justin need to stabilize their dig site somehow. No hard hats and plenty of falling rock would give me pause before I would walk 8 hours at 10-12,000ft in search of a couple hundred dollars of aquamarine. No weather concerns in this episode, I think this may have been a first. Not sure what else they’ll come up with for following episodes but time will tell.

Episode V: I guess this episode could be called Aquamarine on Mt Antero. I like Aquamarine, but fail to understand prospector’s value estimates. I’ve purchased specimens at local rock shows for a tenth of the value the prospectors are quoting. Perhaps it is just their way to try and inflate the prices for the specimens they find. Below are some of the inexpensive purchases of aquamarine I've made.
A few aquas I've picked up at rock shows, none over $20

 $5 for this specimen, though not very gemmy
Once again in this episode the only one who shows common sense is Joe Doris, he wears his hard hat and determines it’s time to get off Antero before the lightning starts popping. Amanda and Travis seem to have a death wish, but perhaps as Joe says the altitude can effect one’s judgment in the high country. I would suggest Amanda and Travis get a room. I’m led to understand they are married as of this post. Not sure about the desirability of phenakite, but Tim seems to think there is a good market for it… I didn't get a good look at the phenakite, but the smoky the phenakite was perched on didn't look like much. You can get a nice phenakite crystal on line for $100 or less. See the website below:
Busse’s had a rough day of it. I know how much a rock can hurt when it strikes your ankle, even if it is only a few pounds. Fretterd again shows off his 350lb smoky at the Lake George show. He says it was valued at $125K. I’m guessing he may have gotten that estimate from Amanda. Oh well, more lightning, rain and few if any real finds. Thought we would see Brancato picking up gold nuggets by now. ;-)