It’s been an amazing season of mining for Parker Schnabel and his team on Discovery’s Gold Rush. Schnabel made some smart risks putting his foreman Rick Ness on his own mining site and it is paying off big, but not without drama. Ness was caught in a firestorm of criticism when he bypassed his boss (Schnabel) and changed the mining plan. The move nearly got him fired.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut, you know. If things aren’t working and you’re getting yelled at for it, what are you going to do?” Ness says, defending his actions. “You can’t just keep doing the same damn thing. … I’m certainly no geologist but it just wasn’t making sense. After beating our heads against the wall, running that side for weeks. It was just madness.”
On Friday, Feb. 16 at 8/7c the series will air live and will include “the biggest announcement in the show’s history.” Ness, who was traveling with the show’s publicist at the time of this interview, was in the dark in regards to what the big announcement was about and was actually trying to get details for himself.
“I can’t get any answers either,” he tells us. “You know, this whole – somebody’s going to make this big statement or what. They won’t even tell me what it is and trust me I was bugging Phil [the show’s publicist] about it today.”
Ness does promises some “jaw-dropping moments” for the remainder of the season. Here he answers a few of our questions.
How ready are you to break out from Parker and mine a claim on your own? Do you feel like you’re ready? I mean, there’s been a lot of talk about that. I’d love to say yes, but I mean there’s so much there that I don’t know. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the last six or seven years that I’ve been doing this, but I don’t know anything about the business side. There’s so much cost there and there’s so much risk there. I do well where I’m at, and you know, it would be a scary thing, quite honestly. It really would. Is it in the cards? I don’t know. Who knows?
What do you do off season? Do you have a different job back in Milwaukee? Pretty much when I do Gold Rush that’s six months straight. I don’t take days off. I’m working like 80 to 100 hours a week. … week in and week out. And you’re in a very remote spot and you’re very disconnected from the rest of the world, and your family, and friends. It’s a huge commitment, quite honestly. … So pretty much the other six months is kind of like my weekend.
You met Parker at the Alaskan State Fair when your band was performing, had you already been watching Gold Rush — how’d you end up on the show? I had watched the first season of Gold Rush. And when I landed in Haines for that State Fair I had no idea. I did find out from one of the promoters and eventually he introduced me to Parker. But Parker wasn’t really on the show at that point. I just kind of wanted to pick his brain about just the whole gold mining thing. Like a lot of people I watched that first season and I was just intrigued, and I wanted to find a way to spend the summer up there. That’s basically all I was looking for. It’s just a beautiful area. The following season I watched Gold Rush and there was the 16-year-old kid that I had met in Haines, Alaska. He was on it. And we texted back and forth a little bit, and I never really thought I’d hear from him again. But then right out of the blue he called me up and offered me a job for Season 3. He basically said, “I’ll give you the job but you’ve got 12 days to get here.” And so, I was just like, “OK, I’m on it.” And I kind of just tied up some loose ends, threw all my stuff in my truck, and just went up there.
If you were to comprise your dream team of miners (no feelings hurt), who are three people that you would absolutely have to have? I would go with Gene Cheeseman, Mitch Blaschke and Freddy Dodge.