30-year-old treasure hunt for $150,000 golden skull near Kamloops featured in video series | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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30-year-old treasure hunt for $150,000 golden skull near Kamloops featured in video series

A waterfall in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
March 08, 2020 - 12:00 PM

A frantic treasure hunt for a golden skull worth $150,000 is being fondly remembered.

Kamloops local Mike Ritcey, creator of the 30-year-old treasure hunt, was recently featured in B.C. Was Awesome video, a video series which explores the province’s interesting history.

Ritcey created the hunt in the mid-1990s, complete with a full treasure map and clues after being inspired by another treasure hunt which turned out to be a hoax, he said. The skull was created from melting down gold bars, and was encrusted with rubies in its eye sockets.


Thousands of people from all over the world raced to the Thompson-Nicola region, eager to get their hands on the golden skull.

Ritcey described it as “gold fever,” as people became consumed with the search, some even going as far as quitting their jobs. He met many characters during the six years it took for someone to actually find the skull.

“I met a lot of good people, really interesting people, there were a few nuts, but that was to be expected,” he said. “Every now and then I get these ideas… and it was a lot of fun."

The treasure map highlighted a large area from Kamloops to Clearwater, which eventually Ritcey narrowed down as he wanted someone to find the skull.

“I’d get hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and it was in the days before emails, so it was a lot of phone calls and answering mail and a lot of people showing up at the house at all times of the night and day,” he said. “It was pretty wild.”

When someone finally found it, Ritcey was “relieved.”

He doesn’t think the video has sparked a resurgence in the interest of the golden skull story, but said inquiries seem to come and go in waves.

There are no plans for another hunt, he said, as the retired paramedic has “moved on to other things.”

“We all have that desire in us for an adventure,” he said.

The skull was hidden near Wells Gray Provincial Park, near the third canyon, he said. Those who found it wish to remain anonymous.

The Thompson-Nicola region is a popular treasure hunting area, and Ritcey believes it’s because of the amount of Crown land available to hide treasure, opposed to places like Kelowna, which has less Crown land available, he said.

Another golden skull, part of the Harkayee Adventure Hunt, still remains to be found. Originally announced in 2013, the painted skull can be found somewhere off the trail in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The winning prize is set at $2,000.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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