Legendary Scots climber Dr Hamish MacInnes dies

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image copyrightMagic B Films
image captionHamish MacInnes died at his home in the Highlands on Sunday

Renowned Scottish mountaineer and inventor Dr Hamish MacInnes has died at the age of 90.

Mr MacInnes, who was born in Gatehouse of Fleet and based himself in Glen Coe, climbed the Matterhorn in the Alps when he was just 16.

He went on to found mountain rescue teams and write books on mountaineering.

Dr MacInnes is credited with inventing climbing's first all-metal ice axe and a rescue stretcher.

His design for a stretcher has been used by rescue teams, and military special forces, all over the world.

The all-metal ice axe, which he made in a shed attached to his house in the 1960s, replaced tools with wooden shafts that could snap when under pressure, such as during a fall while climbing on ice or snow.

image copyrightHamish MacInnes Collection
image captionDr MacInnes climbed all over the world

In the 1970s, Dr MacInnes was also an adviser on Clint Eastwood's film The Eiger Sanction and Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and also The Mission starring Robert De Niro in the 1980s.

He died at his home in Glen Coe on Sunday.

Nicknamed the Fox of Glencoe due to his "cunning as a mountaineer", he had extensive experience and knowledge of climbing.

He was involved in the founding of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team - leading the team for many years - as well as the Search and Rescue Dog Association and the setting up of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service.

'Wonderfully eccentric'

Dr MacInnes took part in more than 20 climbing expeditions abroad, including four to Mount Everest and was almost killed in an avalanche on the peak in 1975.

In 2008, he was the first recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, and was an explorer and a prolific inventor, building a car from scratch when he was 17.

image copyrightMagic B Films
image captionActor Sir Michael Palin and Dr Hamish MacInnes became friends after filming scenes for a Monty Python film

Friend, actor Sir Michael Palin, told BBC Scotland Dr MacInnes saw life as something "to grab with both hands".

Sir Michael said: "I first met Hamish when we were doing some filming in Glen Coe for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

"He was head of mountain rescue in Glen Coe at the time. He had a great sense of humour and was wonderfully eccentric, which was just what we wanted and he helped us on the film.

"He threw 'bodies' into the Gorge of Eternal Peril. I just remember the irony of it. People were looking at this man throwing 'bodies' and we said: 'Don't worry, he's the head of mountain rescue'."

'Left a wonderful legacy'

Another friend, former RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team leader David Whalley, said Dr MacInnes was a legend of Scottish mountaineering.

He said: "The people he must saved over the years because of his work in mountain rescue and the stretchers he invented must be incredible.

"He has left a wonderful legacy."

image copyrightFinal Ascent
image captionDr MacInnes' career including setting up rescue teams and joining international climbing expeditions

Mr Whalley added: "If we were talking in terms of football, he was Lionel Messi.

"At Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team he brought together a great team of local people. It was amazing."

'Tenacious and uncomplaining'

Andy Nelson, leader of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, described Dr MacInnes as a "very kind man" who was "tenacious and uncomplaining", and would be remembered for his "huge contributions" to mountaineering and mountain rescue.

He added: "He was a man of great character and as our postie recently said of him 'They don't make them like that any more'."

For a period in later life Dr MacInnes battled ill-health. He experienced delirium, apparently caused by an acute urinary infection but it was misdiagnosed as dementia.

Dr MacInnes spent time in a psychiatric hospital in later life, during which he made attempts to leave the building.

His struggle with his health and recovery were told in the 2018 film, Final Ascent.

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