Contrary to popular belief, gold digging is not an easy way to make money. Besides dealing with all sorts of issues related to leases, equipment and extreme weather and job conditions, the rivalries between workers and mine bosses make this occupation a difficult one to successfully succeed in.
While Discovery’s “Gold Rush” has done a good job at showing people a glimpse into what’s really going on in North America’s mining operations, there’s also a lot to say about the relationship between gold digging bosses Rick Ness and Parker Schnabel, and the supposedly current conflict between them.
So what is really going on between Parker and Rick? Are they friendly rivals or is there really bad blood between them? Stay with us to finally discover the answer!
Do They Get Along?
As a crew boss, Parker Schnabel is known for his sixth sense at mining, and making the best out of every season financially, but it wouldn’t be the same without his workers, and for some time that included his right hand, Rick Ness.
However, as years passed, the men’s working relationship steadily became muddy, and by the end of the eighth season fans of “Gold Rush” saw Rick leaving Parker’s operation for good, and starting his own mining operation, bringing up many questions related to the status of the relationship between the once good pals.
That being said, Rick and Parker aren’t necessarily close nowadays, but they aren’t enemies either, especially given that they don’t see much of each other: ‘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 enjoyed it’, as Rick told Monsters and Critics in late 2020, also admitting he had ‘no reason to hold grudges’ against his former boss.
All in all, the animosity caused by Rick’s exit from Parker’s crew definitely broke both men’s friendship, but there’s definitely nothing as intense as hatred between them.
Why Did Rick Leave Parker’s Crew?
While leaving such hugely successful operations in “Gold Rush” mustn’t have been easy for Rick Ness, he actually had good reasons to resign from his job as Parker Schnabel’s right hand in 2018. It all comes down to Rick’s latent unconformity with the way things were going in Parker’s operation, as he revealed in a 2020’s interview with Monsters and Critics: ‘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’.
Although Rick never specified what was exactly wrong with Parker, prior to his resignation some issues related to Rick’s choices as a foreman caused quite a strong argument between them, and the idea of leaving was a tempting one: ‘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’, as he had hesitantly revealed to Channel Guide Magazine in early 2018, shortly before “Gold Rush” aired that fateful eighth season’s episode in which he quit.
Needless to say, Rick Ness’ departure from Parker Schnabel’s mining operation had big consequences for both of them. For starters, Rick Ness’ faced the challenges which came with his then-newly founded operation. It was especially hard to form his crew, but he ultimately put aside mining prowess and experience in favor of something more important for him: ‘I just didn’t feel like sharing that with strangers. I wanted to try and give that to my friends’, he admitted to Channel Guide Magazine.
Despite how admirable hiring his friends was, the decision was risky nonetheless. As he admitted in the same interview, he had basically put ‘everything (he) owed on the line’ for his new business, given all the financial costs that setting up his own operation ensued.
On his part, Parker dealt with filling Rick’s empty space in his crew, and that wasn’t an easy task either as it ‘created quite the power vacuum’, he told Pop Culture in late 2018: ‘It caused a bit of turmoil, but ultimately, we have a very good group. And the crew was bigger than just Rick, it’s bigger than just me’, he continued. All in all, it’s clear that even if both men had to go through harsh times, they overcame them on their own.
How Did They Meet?
A notable thing about Rick Ness is how willing he was when he debuted in “Gold Rush” back in 2012. At the time, Parker Schnabel’s crew was still in its early stages, but newcomers such as Rick were the defining point of the mining prodigy’s success.
Regardless of being notably inexperienced in the field, Parker trusted Rick even before he joined his crew. As it happened, they’d actually met in 2011, while both were visiting the State Fair in Haines Borough, Alaska, when a show’s producer connected Parker to Rick, who at the time was slightly interested in mining: ‘I watched that first season and I was just intrigued, and I wanted to find a way to spend the summer up there’, Rick revealed to Channel Guide Magazine.
Go Brewers! https://t.co/q6WFwYIhjm
— Rick Ness (@GoldrushRick) August 27, 2020
Later on, Rick saw Parker taking the spotlight during “Gold Rush” second season, but his biggest surprise was to receive a message from him not long after, as he stated in the same interview: ‘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’.’ Needless to say, Rick took the challenge right away, made his way to Alaska, and the rest is history.
Who Is Rick Ness?
Unlike most people in the field, Rick Ness doesn’t come from a mining family, or have any experience in it until that fateful day on which he was called to join Parker Schnabel’s team. Long before walking the hard path of gold digging, Rick was actually a football player whose career was cut short by an injury.
Despite taking small jobs here and there, Rick’s love for music led him to the punk rock band .357 Stringband, on which he wasn’t only its co-founder but also the bass player. It was during a band’s tour that the Milwaukee musician ended up in Alaska’s State Fair. and there met the then-16 year-old Parker.
Regardless of how hard the work in the mining industry is, Rick notably stays loyal to his style. Not only does his love for motorcycles, tattoos and music remain, but he has recently taken up speed racing as a hobby, which he usually pursues when he’s away from the mining operation for around half a year, as he told Channel Guide Magazine in 2018. All in all, there are so many eye-catching aspects about Rick that “Gold Rush”s audiences haven’t seen on the screen.
How Many Shows Has He Appeared In?
Besides appearing in several seasons of “Gold Rush”, starting from the third, Rick Ness has also appeared in spin-offs from the series, including the “South American” adventure back in 2013, “Winter’s Fortune”, and “The Dirt”.
Rick has had his fair share of specials focused on him, such as the 2018 TV movie “The Rise of Rick Ness”, and the 2020 “Rick’s Rally”, in which he leaves the shovels and mine cart in order to build a race car with his close pals. “Parker’s Trail” saw Rick taking up many challenges as well, as he and his crew walked the historic Yukon’s Klondike Gold Rush Trail, on which thousands of people died back in the late 1800s. In an interview Parker Schnabel gave Channel Guide Magazine in 2017, walking said route wasn’t only a personal challenge for him, but was meant to put Rick at his limit: ‘I thought that it would be hilarious to get Rick out of his element and, for me, it was a bit of an experiment with him’, he admitted, adding that despite not being physically fit for it, Rick had surprisingly agreed to go to the Yukon with him.
All in all, Rick’s fair share of adventures with “Gold Rush” resulted in him gaining lots of popularity, which isn’t surprising in the least.
Who Is Parker Schnabel?
In a field in which most people see themselves losing lots of money with no great compensation, Parker Schnabel stands out not only for his skills at finding gold and founding a business, but also for his impressive history.
Unbeknownst to many, Parker wasn’t even meant to be involved with mining to start with. According to an interview with Entrepreneur: ‘my mom always hated the idea of me not going to college. So I always intended on going, and not pissing her off’, he admitted.
The “Gold Rush” audience first saw Parker when he was barely 16 years old, back when he was still learning his way as a member of his family’s operation, The Big Nugget Crew. Starting from the second season, the world was surprised to see him taking the family business’ lead following his grandfather John’s retirement.
Despite having the family business and being raised around the operation, Parker took the biggest risks of his life, and invested his own college funds to pursue mining. The result was one most people didn’t expect, but Parker’s success during his first season was only a small glimpse of what he could achieve. The following years, “Gold Rush” fans have seen Parker passing from a lucky beginner to arguably one of the biggest success stories in the show.
Who Was His Grandfather?
Even if Parker Schnabel is considered a sort of genius in today’s industry, most of the things he knows come from his grandfather John Schnabel, who prior to his retirement in 2013, had spent several decades mining in Alaska.
Everything started in the 1980s, when at 68 years old John bought the Gold Nugget Mine in his beloved Alaska, just to keep himself physically active after undergoing bypass surgery. Despite being a farmer with no huge knowledge about mining, he eventually learned his way into the industry, and taught everything he knew to his grandsons Parker and Payson. As seen during several episodes of “Gold Rush”, John and Parker’s light hearted conversations were a huge change from all the drama and harshness the show usually featured.
The mine, which is located in Porcupine District in Alaska, certainly didn’t produce as much riches in the hands of John as it does now with Parker on the lead, his legacy was not to be forgotten. John unfortunately passed away in March 2016 at 96 years old, but left many good memories with his family and loved ones: ‘We couldn’t have asked for a better father, grandfather and overall family man; he was a true legend’, Parker told People.com back then, and he’s certainly right.
Parker’s TV Career
Although “Gold Rush” brought Parker Schabel worldwide fame, he has appeared in many other shows of the franchise as well. Some of the most notable are the “South America”s spin-off series premiered in 2013, and the popular interview-centered “The Dirt”.
That being said, “Parker’s Trail” is what people like him for the most. Apparently, the show started as an idea to pass the winter time: ‘I normally travel around a lot and get really nothing accomplished — except getting ready for the next mining season, of course’, he told Channel Guide Magazine.
After adding some elements in the concept, Parker pitched the idea to Discovery, but was thoroughly rejected at first. Nonetheless, Parker was set on doing the adventure himself, not expecting in the least to be called again by the network with more positive news than the last time.
Although the first “Parker’s Trail” season was set on walking the Klondike Trail, the following seasons saw him traveling around the world searching for gold. First to South America, then to Papua New Guinea, Australia and more recently to New Zealand, making his reputation as an adrenaline junkie, especially when it comes to gold and business.
What Are Parker & Rick Doing Now?
Given how unstable the gold mining industry is, it’s no wonder that people often ask themselves about the whereabouts of their favorite TV miners. For Rick’s part, the concern about his whereabouts comes from the end of the 12th season of “Gold Rush”, when his inability to obtain the water permits necessary to set his operation in Yukon seemed to mark an apparently not-so promising next season, which is set to premiere in late 2022.
Even though the “Gold Rush” 13th season trailer had Parker saying ‘rumor has it that (Rick) isn’t coming back’, only time will tell what will happen to him. On his part, the same trailer housed a seemingly confident Parker, which is only expected considering he dug $15 million in gold the last time he was in Yukon.
However, we can only hope that both of their mining journeys have the positive outcomes both of them want.