People all over the nation will soon see the Busse family of Chaffee County on The Weather Channel’s new TV show “Prospectors.”
The show, featuring multiple Colorado prospectors searching for rare gems, will premiere March 26 on The Weather Channel.
Brian Busse said he has supported his family solely through prospecting since 1987. He said he has a wealth of experience in prospecting, much of his early experience coming from guiding gem-finding trips in and around Chaffee County.
Now Busse and his family work their mining claim, the Thank You Lord Aquamarine Mine, on Mount Antero.
“The true start for us was the love of our family’s hobby,” Busse said. He said he got his feet wet teaching the public. In addition to leading rock hunting tours, he taught other guides and enthusiasts. He estimated he has taken about 20,000 to 30,000 people rock hunting over the years.
Several of the Busse family’s discoveries are in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, he said.
Busse said his family has lived in Salida and Howard most of their lives. About 18 years ago the family quietly slipped into the mountains, he said.
Now the family – Brian, Yolanda and their five sons, ages 13 to 31 – spends about half the year living on Mount Antero and working their claim.
“We don’t call it camping,” Brian said. “It’s working.”
Living on Mount Antero means the family often sees and responds to accidents or people who need help before anyone else can show up. “Usually my husband or one of our children helps in accidents,” Yolanda Busse said.
As a family they have saved people from hypothermia, rollovers and other accidents. “We have a reputation,” Brian said.
His reputation caused The Weather Channel to seek out the Busse family to take part in its TV show, he said.
Other people have approached the family before wanting to feature them in a show or documentary, and the family turned them down, Brian said. He said they agreed to work with The Weather Channel because they felt the show, “Prospectors,” would show their situation accurately and others could learn from it.
“We want people out there to see you can make a living off of the natural resources,” Yolanda said.
The family has taught and inspired a lot of people to start rock hunting. Two people the Busses worked with even ended up making their living from finding gems and making jewelry from them, she said.
“When someone gets the (rock hunting) fever, it goes from a hobby to a full-time job,” Brian said.
With the Thank You Lord Aquamarine Mine, “we’re mining on top of the world,” Yolanda said.
Working on Mount Antero is beautiful and dangerous. The family sees extreme weather and extremely beautiful crystals, Brian said.
Many Chaffee County locals do not realize what the family does up in the mountains, Brian said. The show will let people see what the Busse family does on Mount Antero and hopefully teach people to respect the land and all its uses, he said.
“Prospectors” follows a group of Colorado miners searching for the rarest gems in order to strike it rich. However, they risk life and limb daily as they face extreme climates, weather and other perilous conditions in every step of their pursuit.
“I can’t imagine anyone facing the kind of danger the group in ‘Prospectors’ faces on a daily basis, yet this gang simply can’t resist the call of the fortune awaiting them,” said Michael Dingley, senior vice president, content and development, for The Weather Channel Companies. “It’s a thrilling, and sometimes terrifying, journey to watch them pursue their riches at all costs.”
The show’s subjects brave the continent’s most extreme mountain environments in search of precious gems, such as topaz, aquamarine and rhodochrosite.
Depending on the cut and clarity of the stone, aquamarines can go for around $600 per carat on the high end, Brian said.
While Colorado holds some of North America’s richest, most abundant gem fields, the fields sit at the highest elevations. At 14,000 feet above sea level, there is 50 percent less oxygen, and weather is always more extreme, with twice as many lightning strikes, hurricane-force winds and vicious storms, The Weather Channel officials said.
Mining in the mountains can mean adverse weather, but it also offers beautiful views and finds, Brian said.
“There is nothing like going up there and finding (your) own stone and turning it into jewelry,” Yolanda said.
People who want to get into the hobby of rock hunting should contact their local gem and mineral club and visit the nearest Forest Service office for information, Brian said.