“Ice Cold Gold” is a reality TV series that aired on Animal Planet for three seasons, between 2013 and 2015. Following a team of hard-core miners, we saw them searching for gold and various precious metals and gems in the depths of Greenland, where humans have never set foot before.
Ruby Fever – What happened to the rubies?
In season two, guys from Sixty Degree Resources, a small American mining company returned to Greenland in search of rubies. They set up a camp on the island for two months to determine how many rubies were in the so-called ‘red zone’. In the midst of a harsh winter, they discovered a reserve located near a hard-to-reach ridge and rushed to get there before their competitors. As it turns out, numerous other mining companies had also been searching for rubies in the same place.
While John, Josh, and Chad waited at the base camp, Eric and his colleagues from the red Zone Team were pulling out rubies in large numbers. However, not even this venture could have passed without drama. John, who desperately wanted to see the rubies before his 50th birthday, climbed to join the Red Zone Team while carrying more than 50lbs of reindeer meat on his back, putting both himself and his team in danger.
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Meanwhile the Red Zone Team ventures further and deeper into the mountain, and manages to find what could be one of the largest ruby deposits in the world. It has to be one of the most impressive discoveries they made on the show.
‘The Red Zone has spectacular rubies, you cannot find something like that,’ said Josh in one of his interviews. ‘When we discovered, it we immediately knew we had something fantastic.’
During the mining, they pulled out a ruby apparently worth around $200,000, which could have paid for their whole season. But, as ‘ruby fever’ strikes the team, they end up quibbling over their find, and breaking the expensive precious gem.
This goes as far as what was presented on the show. Keeping in mind that John, Josh, Eric and Chad are professional miners, it’s possible that they’ve pulled out a lot more rubies than we saw – it just wasn’t interesting enough for TV.
They stay adamant about not revealing how much they actually ended up finding. ‘That’s the one thing we have, where those rubies are and how much. Why would we give that information out?’, Josh notes. ‘They belong to us.’
However, there is still more to the story. Prior to arriving in Greenland, the team from Sixty Degree Resources didn’t have any form of legal right or authorization provided by the local government for mining. It appears that the local officials let the guys find the reserves on their own, even without the proper documentation, and then seized control of the area upon realizing its value.
Likely hoping for a future co-operative mining effort, the team took the high ground and withdrew from the Red Zone. It’s unclear what came of it since, and whether they returned to the Red Zone in the later years. As far as we know, the company is still in business, and the guys have traveled to Greenland again.
Ruby reserves in Greenland
Spanning over 830,000 square miles (2.1 million square kilometers), Greenland is the largest island in the world. This barely inhabited island has been covered in snow and ice for thousands of years, but in the past several decades, the melting of glaciers has revealed the vast mineral wealth hiding in the rocks below. It’s estimated that the island, governed by Denmark, is sitting on more wealth than Saudi Arabia.
In recent years, people became aware of the presence of rare materials and gemstones – including diamonds, olivine, and lapis lazuli just to name a few. Greenland is also the home of some of the biggest ruby reserves found in the last two decades. The presence of ruby has been known since the early 19th century, when the researcher Karl Ludwing Gieske collected the precious gemstone, however, it took more than 100 years for any new advancements to happen. In 1965, the Geological Survey of Greenland, led by Martin Ghisler found rubies in Aappaluttoq, a small island near the South-West shores of Greenland.
It didn’t take long for explorers to find more deposits on the island, now also known as Ruby Island. Following this discovery, several private companies rushed to extract rubies from these deposits. One of the greatest finds was discovered by the Canadian exploration company True North Gems (TNG) – a 440-carat ruby, now valued at more than $450,000, and believed to be the largest recorded ruby in the northern hemisphere. Following their discovery, TNG applied for an exploration permit, and opened a ruby mine in the area.
Although limited by harsh weather conditions which only allow a small time window for mining activity, the government of Greenland is looking to take advantage of the island’s precious material reserves. Mining is already contributing significantly to Greenland’s economy, and could be the final factor in establishing their independence from Denmark.
New deposits of ruby are being discovered in mainland Greenland each year, while innovative technology allows for their extraction from places that were once inaccessible.
Were the rubies fake?
Despite the evidence of undiscovered ruby reserves existing in Greenland, not all “Ice Cold Gold” viewers are convinced that the way rubies were found on the show was real. In the “Ruby Fever” episode, it seemed like the guys randomly struck a rock impregnated with small rubies. To top it all off, this allegedly happened in the last moments of their exploration in Greenland.
One fan on the “Colorado Prospectors” online forum offered his explanation for what might have happened behind the scenes. According to him, it’s likely that Eric, the geologist of the group, actually found the rubies on one of his earlier solo trips. Since the season was coming to an end without any major discoveries, Eric apparently suggested that the team visit the place he found rubies, so that they can have their ‘money shot’.
The rubies were ice cold and red hot! Gotta get back there.
— Eric Drummond (@rsfgolddigger) June 4, 2013
“Ice Cold Gold”
Josh Feldman and his brother Jesse had been in the mining business for years, before traveling to Greenland for the first time. They started off by looking for gold reserved at the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, home of the legendary Lost Dutchman Mines. The brothers also run the stables they inherited from their father, but their fascination with the history of mining in the Superstitions is what kept them in the business of gold mining. Back in 2009, Jesse wrote and published a book about Lost Dutchman’s treasure, entitled “Jacob’s Trail: The Legend of Jacob Waltz’s Lost Dutchman Gold Mine”, making a case for where he believes the mines are.
Further, Josh and Jesse are the owners of the Mammoth Mine, one of the most productive mines in the late 19th century. They are one of the rare people keeping alive the business of old-school prospecting.
Their unique story inspired Discovery Channel producers who offered them a six-part series on their channel Animal Planet in 2011. To film the series, the brothers and their fellow prospectors were sent for two months-long trips to Greenland, where they were tasked with looking for gold and other precious materials.
The first season of “Ice Cold Gold” was shot during the summer of 2012, in the remote area known as Storo and the island’s capital city Nuuk.
Public response to the show
Back in North America, “Ice Cold Gold” received a mixed response from the public. It was one of several reality TV shows at the time which focused on the topic of gold prospecting (others being “Gold Rush” and “Bering Sea Gold”). It didn’t take long for this TV trend to transfer into real life as well, as many people started participating in the modern-day gold rush inspired by these TV shows.
Back in 2014, CBC talked with a geological supply store owner, who noted a significant rise in business. ‘Those shows have helped … those people catch gold fever, I think.’, she said. She also noted that the sales of prospecting equipment such as gold pans and sluices had jumped by more than 25%.
However, the show also drove a lot of negative criticism. As of right now, “Ice Cold Gold” has a not-that-favorable rating of only 5.5/10 on IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase), with many reviewers calling the series fake. ‘This group keeps ‘finding’ new areas with gold or other valuable minerals, but if you dig just a little bit with Google, all the places they go have been examined by others. So all in all this is a fake show where they will never get a ‘claim’. To see such a show on Discovery saddens me.’, one user wrote in their review.
A lot of fans also had an issue with the fact that a lot of screentime was allotted to personal drama between the guys, instead of exploration.
Where is the cast now?
In 2016, Josh and Jesse Feldman entered talks with Travel Channel about a new TV show, which would focus on the two of them searching for gold again, but this time in their home state of Arizona. The series entitled “Lost Gold” premiered in 2019, and is still airing to this day. It expands upon their fascination with finding Lost Dutchman’s gold, although the brothers also explore for other lost treasures.
‘The show is history first,’ Josh said. ‘We head out, we chase these stories from the Old West—any story that could involve gold. There are thousands of these lost gold stories; stagecoach robberies, lost mines, robberies gone bad.’
Josh and Jesse have clearly parted ways with their old “Ice Cold Gold” co-stars, but where are they now?
Seasoned geologist Eric Drummond, who provided his expertise on “Ice Cold Gold”, also has a new show on Discovery, entitled “Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch”. This time, Eric is providing his expertise to Duane and Chad Ollinger, who are exploring the supposed paranormal activities and hidden treasures at the Blind Frog Ranch.
The infamous location is said to be the place where Montezuma buried his stash of Aztec Gold. According to some sources, the Aztec Emperor visited Utah around 1520 to prevent the Spanish conquistadors from seizing his treasure. Although the supposed gold hasn’t been located, the team on “Mystery at Blind Frog Ranch” has found several clues that might lead them to it. Perhaps the most significant discovery has been the remains of a wooden box estimated to be dating from the early 16th century.
But, Eric himself is more interested in exploring for the rare elements found in the area. The most perplexing one is gallium, a very scarce element used in many modern technological devices, such as LCD TVs and smartphones. Eric believes that gallium was put there by people, and isn’t naturally occurring. He has also found traces of iridium, which he links to a meteoric impact that happened a long time ago.
Another “Ice Cold Gold” star, Zach ‘Gator’ Schoose has chosen another path for himself. Unlike his former co-stars, he seems to have moved on from doing TV work, and is now fully focused on his company, Earthcore Development. John Self went down a similar path, operating PHC Sweepskates from his home in Colorado.
“Ice Cold Gold” is hardly the only reality TV series focused on prospecting. In fact, it’s just one of the many similar shows that appeared after the success of Discovery Channel’s “Gold Rush”.
Entering its 13th season, “Gold Rush” is the longest-running and most popular prospecting TV series out there. The series started airing back in 2010 when it was still known as “Gold Rush: Alaska”. It follows a crew of men from Sandy, Oregon who had lost their jobs and traveled far north hoping to strike a fortune in Alaska. In the beginning, none of the guys had any mining experienced and had to learn everything on the go – but they came out successful, making close to $30,000 in their first attempt.
Nowadays, the show has expanded and follows several small gold-mining businesses, most notably the Parker Schnabel crew and the Hoffman crew. Originally taking place in Alaska, “Gold Rush” has been filmed in many locations in the past 12 seasons, such as Yukon, Canada, Guyana jungles in South America, and Park Country in Colorado, among others.
Aside from “Gold Rush”, one of the most highly-regarded prospecting shows is Weather Channel’s “Prospectors” which aired from 2013 to 2016. It focused on several miners who operated in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, looking for gold and other precious materials. The show gave us a unique insight into how mining is done in the real world, and is generally lacking the personal drama that is so common with other similar series.
Another popular prospecting show is “Yukon Gold”, which aired from 2013 to 2017. The series followed a rotating roster of four gold mining crews who were hoping to strike it big in Yukon, Canada. Facing harsh weather, lots of dirty hard work, and numerous unforeseen circumstances, not every team came out on top, but such is the reality of the mining business.