By Hollie McKay
Emily Riedel hoists The Clarks anchor on “Bering Sea Gold.” (DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS)
Emily Riedel and her father Steve prepare to go under the ice to dredge for gold. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
There aren’t too many women in the world like Emily Riedel – an opera singer by passion, a dancing-with-death female dredger by trade.
Riedel is back for yet another season of the hit Discovery Channel show “Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice” – only this time she and her friends and foes are searching for fortune amid the winter in Nome, Alaska, forced to drill beneath four feet thick sheets of ice to get to the bottom of the Bering Sea.
“We were really limited by the elements, the winds 20 or 30 below. It was very difficult conditions to make money in,” Riedel told FOX411. “There were a lot of barriers we needed to overcome and we are all still learning. It was a chaotic and frustrating time drilling under the ice… we aren’t certified divers and we are trying to do something that is very difficult and dangerous.”
With temperatures far below zero, Riedel and her teammates face the all too real threat of hypothermia, frostbite and even not making it out alive. But putting everything on the line for the chance of hitting it big is a risk she has no qualms in undertaking.
“There are certain goals I have for gold mining that I haven’t yet achieved, so I am going to keep on trying until I do,” Riedel continued. “The conditions might be awful, but everyone in the world wants to find gold. If you find it, it is yours. It is worth it.”
Some might say it’s a matter of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, but for this Alaskan resident, it’s more about accepting that being abnormal is your normal.
“On a bad day I say I could stop this and become an accountant, but that’s not true. I would be a horrible accountant. We are incapable of having regular jobs. I have an uncomfortable personality in general,” Riedel explained. “Normal settings make me really anxious. I don’t feel normal in what should be normal situations.”
And although she remains the only female gold hunter featured on the Discovery show, and ultimately one of the very few women in the profession in general, she is hopeful a gender-based shift will start to happen in the years to come.
“It is a very difficult job mentally and physically, and there just aren’t many women drawn to this career. Although there should be and I hope that changes,” Riedel added. “A lot of guys have come up to me and told me that I inspire their daughters, and I am proud of that. I have had a lot of failures, but I have gone completely out of comfort zone and ventured into something that was dangerous, but challenging and rewarding.”
“Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice” airs on the Discovery Channel on Fridays.