Gold Rush star Rick Ness is no newcomer to the ups and downs of the mining business.
He is, on general appearance, out of the Parker Schnabel inner circle. Those are the fortunate few who traverses around the globe with the 25-year-old macher, who is racking up land and capital to expand his mining horizons.
But that hasn’t dimmed Ness’s pluck or made him give up the life.
Far from it. He’s in the “redemption” phase of his relatively new life as a gold mining boss, and his fans and those who have followed him know he won’t quit easily.
This is his season where he rights the wrongs of last year’s disastrous financial treading of water after putting in a ton of work, and now he’s a lean, mean gold digging machine.
Tonight you will see how he gets his base camp up and running. The effects of mother nature, and, as he calls it, “shi*** roads,” are all in a day’s work when the Yukon is your office.
Monsters & Critics spoke to Rick Ness today ahead of tonight’s episode, and it’s the interview you have been waiting for:
Monsters & Critics: I was really holding my breath when I found out that they were introducing Fred Lewis as a boss miner… Is this the Todd Hoffman replacement? Or are you just throwing in the towel on the series? Talk about that.
Rick Ness: Well, I actually, I had no idea any of that was going on. I was just kind of too busy doing my own thing. I heard bits and pieces about it, and sometime about midway through the season, [I found out].
I mean, I really didn’t have too much time to even really think about how it was going to be
M&C: It’s felt to me as a viewer and as a fan, the way that they stitched the premiere and added Fred, that they weren’t sure you were even going to be able to get out of Wisconsin to Canada.
Ness: Oh, sure. Yeah. I mean that very well could have been the angle there where they were just covering the bases. I’m not really sure.
I’m not in on those meetings with the network [laughs], so yeah, my position is out in the woods, digging up gold. So yes, but I hadn’t actually thought about that, but yes, it could have been a preemptive thing, and they just ran with it. So we’ll see.
M&C: Fred doesn’t come across as a miner to me, and he didn’t make it across the border to Canada like you did. Why do you think that was? Why do you think that he failed, and you succeeded at getting across to Canada?
Ness: Yeah, I’m not too sure about that. I know it was quite difficult for me, and what it came down to was that I do own a business based in Canada, a mining company, and they did interpret it as an essential business.
So, that was my angle to get in. I only had one other American on my crew this year, and that was Kruse. I basically laid it out that he was essential for my business, along with all my other people up there. That was the whole thing for me to get up there.
It was “this is an essential business, and I do have people that work for me in this essential business. And none of them are going to be able to work if I cannot get up there.”
That was my angle in.
M&C: Well, it worked, and it was palpable in the scene last week, you were really worried, and it came across in the footage. You and even little Rubi really looked worried.
Ness: [Laughs] Yeah. Well, you know, it came down to there, in that moment, there was several times where we thought we had it figured out… where it was just like, yes, this is going to work right here.
We just have to submit this paperwork, and then it’s going to take 10 days, and then you’ll your answer. We do that, and then we’d wait, and then it’d be like, Oh? Things have changed? So now we’ve got to do this, this, this, and this. And then we’ve got to submit this and then we’ll just wait for two weeks!
That happened three or four times. Finally, I thought, what if things are going to keep changing. They are obviously going to keep changing because nobody knows where this [COVID] is going.
If we just keep following these things and waiting, and we’re just waiting for things to change again. So it was just like, let’s just go, let’s just, let’s run on this one. We’ve submitted that paperwork. Let’s hope that by the time they get to the border, some of it’s come through, and there’s a [paper] trail there and, bam, like that’s the way I looked at.
It was like if I just keep waiting… I’m just going to be waiting all summer. And then I’m just never going to go up there.
M&C: Rubi, the wonder Wiener dog. So what was Rubi thinking? A little Wiener dog when there are lions and tigers and bears in the Yukon?
Ness: Oh, man. I really don’t know that that’s so unlike her. She never wanders at all. I never have to worry about where she is, and that night, I don’t know what it was. She obviously just took off out of there running, and it didn’t stop.
I was so worried because two weeks before that, there was this big black wolf nearby. And the very first time I saw him, I spotted him before he saw me. And then when he noticed me because I said something to my mechanic, Carl standing there.
I said, ‘Hey, Carl, look at that Wolf.’ And the wolf looked up and charged right at us. Its first instinct was to just charge, and there was a ditch that I had dug previously, and the wolf…it went down into the ditch. It was kind of a high wall, and it couldn’t get out on the other side of it, so I don’t know what it would have done.
But that wolf was hanging right around camp. I thought, for sure, if Rubi had gone anywhere into the woods for any five minutes, like, that wolf would’ve gotten her.
And so, after the first hour that she was gone, I was pretty convinced that I’d never get her back. And then as the hours went on, after that turned into two, three, four hours, we weren’t giving up…everybody on my crew was just pounding through the woods, yelling her name.
But I just didn’t think for a second she’d be coming back. And then, we found her and she was over five miles away from the claim. It was crazy.
M&C: What is Rick’s Rally? Will you explain that to me?
Ness: I really wanted to get my crew together and kind of do something fun in the offseason. So, we got together and ended up entering this 500-mile endurance race on ice in Northern Wisconsin.
It’s called Iceman 500 and it’s labeled as the world’s world’s fastest UTV race. So, me and my guys got together, because that is more of what we are into. We’ve done more of that kind of stuff, and we entered this race and I drove the whole thing, and we raced against 24 teams.
A lot of them were like factory-sponsored professional racers and I ended up, taking third place.
M&C: Who is your sponsor?
Ness: Evolution PowerSports is my biggest partner. they built the car that I raced. We also built a car, but we only had 10 days to get ready to do this race.
And we built a really fast car, but we just didn’t have enough time to really test it. And 500 miles is a long way, especially in that kind of weather.
I ended up meeting, Jim Zaccone from Evolution Powersports, and he offered up one of his race-ready cars that they had built. And, man, I was really happy that I made a decision to race his car because it was infallible, and we ran it perfectly. And obviously, the results were great. We took third place.
M&C: Who was your crew in the Yukon this season?
Ness: Karla is there with me. She was one of the first. When I got up there, it was just Kruse and I, and then Karla was the first one to meet us up there too, so that’s how we got going. It was just me and Kruse and Karla.
Troy [Taylor] works with me a bit, last year on the ground. That’s how I met him, but then this year I’m on his ground, but he was really busy this year.
He was actually running a different mine about two and a half hours away. I actually didn’t get to see Troy as much as I would’ve liked because his knowledge on the ground is really helpful.
Then I’ve got a few more familiar faces that show up. I think you’ll probably see that, maybe on tonight’s episode or maybe even the next one, so I won’t give that away yet. but I kept a really small crew this year.
Like I really wanted to keep it basic, get back to our roots and probably smaller than even my first year, if I’m being honest. I’m happy I did like, we really needed to, I didn’t have a whole lot of money to play with and we just, we needed to keep it basic.
M&C: I noticed that in the teaser for tonight’s episode, the oversize load that you’re bringing up, on a flatbed, tips over a little bit. Talk about that.
Ness: Yeah, well that was the big thing once we got there, I had to move to the new ground there to the [Troy] Taylor’s. It was only about 30 minutes away but it’s all off-road and really, really shi*** off roads if I should put it that way.
The part that you saw is one of the pieces of my camp, it’s actually one of the center’s shacks there. It’s got the bathroom unit, it’s got all the showers in the bathroom for the camp.
And, while it’s not a key piece to digging the dirt and getting the gold, that is a key piece that houses my crew.
I wasn’t too happy about that. Yeah. It went off the side of the road and there was like four pathetic, little trees holding it up. And, any kind of stuff like that up there [in the Yukon], it never goes how you plan, you know?
Like I said, it’s only 30 minutes down the road, but the road sucks and we had a lot of stuff to move and hardly any people, it was just me and Karla and Kruse really. And the trucker there. But we got after it.
M&C: One of the words I keep hearing over and over again in the interstitials and the promos for your show is this is your season of redemption. Talk about that.
Ness: Yeah, well in one way, that that was a lot of fuel for me this year is having something like that hanging over me. And it’s new for me. I took last season really, really hard. that’s not something I’m used to, just with things that I do in my life.
I’m usually pretty successful. I just about everything I try and I took that really hard last year. It took me all winter to come to terms with it. I ended up accepting what happened and accepted my part in it. And just use that as my fuel for this year. obviously, redemption is huge on my mind.
I’m not a failure and I really want to go out there and prove that I’m not, but also, you also can’t pay your mortgage with redemption. So I’m also looking to make money.
M&C: I’m going to get into some uncomfortable weeds here. It feels like there’s a Berlin Wall between you and Parker Schnabel. There is definitely a chill in the air. I don’t think that he has the enmity he had for Todd Hoffman with you, but yet I feel that there’s definitely a break. Can you talk about your relationship with Parker?
Ness: Sure, sure. Yes. Um, I mean, I think the initial break there, there was some animosity there. There definitely was on my part. I was not happy with a lot of things, between him and I.
I aired a lot of it out, actually right away, you know what I mean? And, I think that there definitely was some animosity between us and I say that there may even still be.
But honestly, I mean, I don’t see him very much. no, it’s just kind of just two different worlds. I’m busy, he’s busy, but over the last year and a half, two years, the very few times that I have seen him, I’ve actually I actually enjoyed it.
And I think he has, too.
Like our most recent, we just did a virtual episode of The Dirt. And it was the four mine bosses on there. We didn’t speak directly with each other or anything, but it was kind of like…I don’t know how to explain it.
Like you could kind of tell that he was in my corner. because cause Crystal was asking some questions that were, they weren’t quite right on point and Parker actually jumped in and kind of defended me…but kind of just made it pretty clear where he stood.
It was kind of nice if I’m being honest. It really was. And the last time him and I hung out in person, Oh man is probably a year ago. I think it was in New York.
We actually went out that night and had a bunch of drinks and stuff and had fun. Yes…. I don’t know. I think that the animosity that was there… I think is probably faded away. And for me, I’ve got no reason to hold grudges. I don’t have time for that.
M&C: I know you can’t give spoilers, but I’m going to ask you this and we’ll all read between the lines. Are you going to continue being a miner?
Ness: Yes. I think so.
Gold Rush airs Fridays at 9 pm on Discovery.