Thursday, August 25 presents
Nancy Aulenbach

Journey Into Amazing Caves
April 5, 2001

Nancy Aulenbach, caver and cave rescue specialist,one of the stars of the latest IMAX film"Journey Into Amazing Caves," answers your questions about an alien world - one that is right here on Earth. Why would anyone risk their life to drop into a dangerous cave? View incredible photos from these unexplored places as you find out!

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Kodak: one of the stars of the latest IMAX film "Journey Into Amazing Caves," live via this state-of-the-art chat application. Often looked at as an extreme sport, caving also is done in the rigorous scientific pursuit of finding undiscovered forms of life to seek new hopes for medical breakthroughs. Let's begin. Welcome, Nancy!

Nancy Aulenbach: Thanks for logging on. Ask me your questions!

Sigmagirl: When did you first realize you had an interest in caves?

Nancy Aulenbach: When my mom was expecting me and carried me through caves in her belly. Since I was born, I've always had an interest in caving. The curiosity is what drives me everytime I go underground.

Corvettegirl: What kind of physical preparations did you have to go through to get ready for this film?

Nancy Aulenbach: I go caving every weekend. And cavers use every muscle in their body. That's how I stay in shape. No special preparations besides just caving every weekend.

Blevedere: How many people were on location in these caves?

Nancy Aulenbach: In Greenland, there were nine IMAX crew members, including myself and Hazel, along with a French caving, which consisted of about seven. In the Yucatan, there were lots and lots of local Mayans who helped carry all of the gear. In Arizona, there were about 20 people.

Angelfish: Was there a point in the production that you thought, "Okay, this is a bit too much - what am I doing here?"

Nancy Aulenbach: There was never a time when I thought that. This was a wondeful opportunity to visit some caving areas that I normally wouldn't have the opportunity to access, and I loved every minute of it. Greenland was particularly exciting for me. It was my first ice caving experience. It was really, really cool! But also very dangerous!

Mandy: The shots taken in the ice caves are incredible and awesomely blue. How did you capture that affect?

Nancy Aulenbach: The blue light is the actual sunlight shining through the ice, so there were no special effects in any of the filming. It was like caving in a magical fairy land. It was breathtaking! The blue didn't make it feel colder, but warmer.

Cleo Kitty: What part of the U.S. has the best caves?

Nancy Aulenbach: Every cave is wonderful in its own way. However, TAG (which is an acronym for Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia), where the three states come together, has the highest concentration of caves in the U.S. So it's no coincidence that I live here in Georgia. But if you're talking about sheer beauty of the decorations in the cave, I would have to say the caves of the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico. The decorations and formations are so spectacular.

Ligonberry: How did the IMAX people find you to make this movie? Waiting by the mouth of a cave? Or had they heard about you?

Nancy Aulenbach: MacGillivray Freeman Films contacted the National Speleological Society, which is an organization of about 12,000 cavers throughout the country and the world that come together to promote cave conservation, exploration, and science. MacGillivray Freeman asked cavers who they thought would be appropriate for the filming of this movie. Unbeknownst to us, Hazel Barton and I were both mentioned as candidates among about 1,000 other cavers. After narrowing down the choices, Hazel and I were the last two and they just couldn't decide which one of us they wanted, so they chose us both. It was a real shocker!

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