When MacGillivray Freeman Films began searching for a caver to star in our film, we consulted with John Scheltens of the National Speleological Society. He recommended Nancy Aulenbach and Hazel Barton, both of whom are skilled, serious cavers – respected by their peers – who both possess a lively sense of humor! The more we learned about each caver, the more difficult it was to decide between the two, so we asked them both! Though Nancy and Hazel belong to some of the same caving organizations, they didn’t know each other until they got on the plane bound for Greenland, the first shoot of the film.
  Hazel Barton, PhD.

Born in Bristol, England, Hazel Barton received a bachelors degree in Applied Biology at the University of the West of England, then moved to the United States to pursue a doctorate in microbiology in Colorado. Prior to her work with Norman Pace at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she conducts research on drug-resistant tuberculosis, she was an Instructor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Following an 'Outward Bound' course as a teen, Hazel began caving on a weekly basis, exploring the wet, muddy caves of England and Wales. Since moving to the U.S., her passion has become cave exploration and mapping. She is respected as one of the top cave-cartographers in the country, and has received numerous awards for the maps she has produced of both dry and underwater caves. Hazel is presently a Director of the National Speleological Society and the Quintana Roo Speleological Survey.

Visit Hazel's site at www.cavescience.com

  "Everyone can explore caves, but you should learn how to do it with a minimum impact on the environment, respect the landowners and get the proper training - it's dangerous down there."
  Nickname: "H"
  Loves Most about Caving: "The places you go, the things you see and the people you meet."
  Worst Fear about Caving: "Running out of air underwater."

About Nancy: "Nancy and I are complete opposites - she's fairly conservative, while I thrive on being outrageous. But because of a shared passion for caves and caving, despite our differences, we became instant best-friends!"

  Nancy Aulenbach

A Montessori School Teacher Assistant from Norcross, Georgia, Nancy Aulenbach is an avid caver. She and her husband Brent go caving almost every weekend. In fact, Nancy has been caving since she was an infant, thanks to her parents whom she accompanied on every caving trip. Nancy is a National Cave Rescue Instructor and is instrumental in cave rescues due to her small stature and ability to squeeze through tight passages. She also enjoys a wide reputation for her surveying and exploration skills. In September of 1999, she had the honor of being inducted into The Explorers Club. Like many cavers, Nancy participates in cave conservation efforts (i.e. removal of graffiti and garbage from caves), biological inventories, and geology and hydrology studies related to cave formation.

Visit Nancy Aulenbach's site at www.nancy4caves.net

  "Research and conservation of caves are so important – caves are non-renewable resources that need to be protected so that future generations will have the opportunity to go caving, too."
  Loves Most about Caving: "Every aspect of caving: getting muddy; complete exhaustion from a successful exploration trip; cave critters, especially bats; seeing a world that most people will never see; hanging, (literally on rope) with my best buddies."  

Worst Fear about Caving: Cave Crickets! "The little devils always jump on me but never anyone else I’m caving with. It’s like they sense my fear!"

  Always wears: A huge smile on her face.
  About Hazel: "We're two totally different people- about as different as two people can get. But we both love to cave, and that common thread has been enough to weave a really cool friendship. If it weren't for H there with me during all of the filming locations, I wouldn't have had anyone to sing and dance with!"


  Jorge González-Pacheco V.

A native of Mexico City, Jorge has been diving the cenotes of Quintana Roo since 1985. He now lives in Akumal, a small village 70 miles south of Cancun, where he operates a private diving and snorkeling tour service to the local reefs and caverns as well as lodging services (www.mexicodreamvillas.com). He has logged more than 4000 dives in different specialties including drift, night, underwater navigation, multilevel filming and cave diving. González has been certified a Master Scuba Diving Instructor, Full Cave Diver, Speleological Diver and Technical Diver.



  Janot Lamberton

Janot Lamberton has pioneered the exploration of ice caves in Greenland. For over ten years he has lead expeditions each year to the frozen ice cap of Greenland, inside the Arctic Circle, where scientists and cavers have explored side by side. Janot has twice broken his own world record for plumbing the depths of the deepest ice cave ever documented.

A technical advisor to the National Speleological Society of France, Janot began caving at the age of six. He has won numerous honors, including being elected as Man of the Year by the French region of Rhone-Alpes.



  Luc Moreau

Luc Moreau earned his PhD. In glaciology from the University of Grenoble. He is a practicing glaciologist in the area Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe. Luc finds the ice caves of Greenland offer him a unique opportunity to study a glacier at great depth without the need to take deep core samples. An accomplished mountaineer trained in mountain rescue techniques, Luc also won a coveted award from Hazel Barton and Nancy Aulenbach. During the expedition to Greenland for Journey into Amazing Caves, they elected him "Cutest Frenchman."

A Conversation with Film Characters Nancy Aulenbach and Dr. Hazel Barton
  Q: You’ve both been caving since you were young. How do you describe your love for caving to non-cavers?
  Nancy: Everything I know about caving I learned from my mom and dad, who carried my brothers and me into caves when we were just babies. Sometimes I feel more at home underground than on the surface! For us, caves are like looking for hidden treasures. What will be around the next corner? What beautiful formations will we find? Where will this passage lead? It’s also about having adventures with good friends. I live in Georgia near lots of caves. Every chance I get I’m off caving with my husband Brent and our friends.
  Hazel: In caving there are also opportunities to get what I call that "man-on-the-moon" feeling. I’ve been in cave passages where no one has every stepped before. It’s an overpowering emotion of exploration. I’ve been caving on a weekly basis since I was 16 years old. I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up for the course during an Outward Bound trip in Wales. I just found that I was very comfortable in the cave. The darkness or not knowing what was ahead didn’t bother me a bit. It’s exciting, actually!
  Q: Hazel, it sounds a bit like your research. You go into caves to collect microorganisms, not knowing what you’ll bring back or what you’ll learn from them.
  Hazel: Exactly. I work with a team of microbiologists who study microorganisms that live in extreme environments, places like caves. Organisms in these environments have to fight hard for the precious resources, such as nutrients, without wasting precious energy. So these bacteria make lethal weapons against each other. Our hope is to isolate an organism with such a lethal weapon against something like tuberculosis or cancer. In other words, we’re looking for antibiotics for the new millennium. Studying these ‘bugs’ as we call them, also helps the goals of our lab: studying the evolution of bacteria, and hence life on our planet.
  Q: Is there a specific health problem your research is targeting?
  Hazel: My research is aimed at studying multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). This bacterium is becoming the new global health threat, especially in developing countries. There are only a few drugs remaining that are effective against this type of TB. A World Health Organization report recently stated that if not handled correctly MDR-TB could be equivalent to the emergence of HIV, only spread like the common cold. Sixty to ninety million people are predicted to die by 2020. It’s pretty scary.
  Q: MFF filmed in three very different kinds of caves: ice caves in Greenland, underwater caves beneath Yucatán’s jungles and a cave high on a cliff near the Grand Canyon. Which was your favorite?
  Nancy: The Arizona cave was great. Hazel and I spent some time mapping and surveying this cave, which has never been explored. It was a rare opportunity for me to experience a canyon cave on an 800-foot cliff face. Even though it was really hot – 112 degrees – the view of the Redwall canyon and the turquoise river below us was spectacular. My specialty is being ‘on rope,’ so it was great experience for me to rappel down the cliff face and then have to ‘pendulum’ into the cave.

Hazel: I have a healthy respect for heights. The canyon shoot – dangling that high above the river -- was a bit, ah, breathtaking, to say the least! The Yucatán shoot was more fun, but a lot harder work than Greenland. It was 100 degrees colder in Greenland but at least everything stopped when the sun went down. Filming in underwater caves can obviously occur sun up or sun down! Cave diving is very appealing because you get to float weightless in this beautiful environment – it’s caving in three dimensions. I certainly learned a lot during the shoot. I think it has improved my ability to deal with problems underwater, and it has improved my dry caving too. I’m a lot more willing to shove myself into really impossible holes because I keep thinking to myself: "Hey, I have an unlimited supply of air here!"