Pikes Peak region residents featured on Weather Channel

BY LINDA NAVARRO Updated: March 26, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: March 26, 2013

The Pikes Peak or Bust gold rush has turned blue and green.

And The Weather Channel came to Colorado last June to follow these modern prospectors, trekking above timberline on 14,275-foot Mount Antero to one of the more enticing gem fields in the world.

Instead of gold and silver, these rockhounds, including several from the Pikes Peak region, are seeking their fortunes in amazonite, smoky quartz, topaz and aquamarines.

They’re part of an original, nine-part series, “Prospectors,” which begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Like the early miners, these prospectors deal with rugged mountain terrain, dreaded claim jumpers and the possibility of never striking it rich. They’re called “rag-tag” miners although eagle-eye viewers might spot some Hollister sweats and designer jeans.

The area prospectors, many of whom will be featured throughout the series, include Amanda Atkins, Rich Fretterd and the Dorris family (father Joe, son Tim and daughter Krystle Velasco). Fretterd has a claim near Lake George/Florissant.

Velasco said her family will appear in the first episode “with a very expensive mineral reveal.”

“We feel this is a truly unique way of life in Colorado,” she said.

The Dorrises have been known in the Pikes Peak region since 1985, when they opened Glacier Peak Fine Art and Gems, and later set up Pinnacle 5 Minerals.

Patriarch Joe Dorris, an author and artist, turned his love of mining into a family affair and headed for the mountains around Mount Princeton.

“It’s the fact that his kids are by his side that make each find that much sweeter,” Velasco said.

Tim Dorris handles the heavy equipment duty and Velasco, a former beauty queen-turned-physical fitness buff, is in charge of the business side of things, while maintaining “a special passion for the family’s topaz claim,” she admits.

Although the personalities are in the forefront of the cable TV series, there are enough Weather Channel moments — lightning strikes, high winds, thunder snow —  to keep the regular viewers happy.

And, of course, there is plenty of footage of the state’s abundant beauty.

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