Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Hamish MacInnes: Scotland’s fabled man of the mountains dies aged 90

Hamish MacInnes
Hamish MacInnes.

Hamish MacInnes, one of the world’s most famous mountaineers, has died at his Highland home, aged 90.

And one of his colleagues said the Scottish hills would be “darker and emptier”, now that the man with the nicknames the Fox of Glencoe and MacPiton has gone.

The remarkable Scot, who was climbing on the Matterhorn as a teenager and was involved in Sir Chris Bonington’s successful Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition in 1975, was a pioneering figure widely regarded as the father of modern mountain rescue.

His inventive mind was the catalyst for a number of initiatives such as the Search and Rescue Dog Association and the Avalanche Information Service.

He made an attempt to climb Everest in 1953 and is credited with inventing the first all-metal ice-axe and a lightweight stretcher, widely used in mountain and helicopter rescue.

A sense of wanderlust, thirst for adventure

During his far-travelled and eventful life, he worked with some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Clint Eastwood, Sir Sean Connery and Robert De Niro on such films as The Eiger Sanction, Five Days One Summer and the Mission.

But the redoubtable character, who was born in Gatehouse of Fleet in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1930, had many strings to his bow, was captivated and fascinated by the allure of his country’s myriad high places and was never happier than when he was tackling a fresh challenge in the Cuillins or the Cairngorms.

A sense of wanderlust, thirst for adventure and desire to break down barriers was in his DNA. His father served in the Chinese police in Shanghai, before joining the British Army and the Canadian Army during the First World War.

As the youngest member of a large family, MacInnes was left to blaze his own distinctive trail and proved the wisdom of the adage that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

Hamish Macinnes

At 17, he built his own motor car. There were few problems which confronted him, on or off the peaks, whch he could not negotiate. Or, at least, not until the latter stages of his life.

In 2014, Mr MacInnes suffered a urinary tract infection which left him suffering from delirium and he was ‘sectioned’ into a psychiatric hospital in the Scottish Highlands.

He made multiple attempts to escape from confinement, including scaling up the outside of the hospital to stand on its roof.

Eventually, after recovering from the illness, he was left with no memory of his former life, but, true to type, he rallied from adversity and made a poignant return to the spotlight.

The Final Ascent

In 2018, a documentary film was produced for BBC Scotland, titled Final Ascent:The Legend of Hamish MacInnes.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3121727011204203

Introduced by his friend, Sir Michael Palin, it recounted the story of MacInnes’s life and achievements, and how he used archive footage, his photographs and his many books to “recover his memories and rescue himself”.

Mr MacInnes, who received an OBE and BEM, and was inducted into the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame in 2003, died at the weekend at his home in Glencoe.

‘The Scottish hills are darker and emptier today’

Hamish MacInnes

John Allen, the former head of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, paid heartfelt tribute to his former colleague.

He said: “The Scottish hills are darker and emptier today following the passing of the iconic and universally respected Hamish McInnes.

“In addition to being a world-class mountaineer, Hamish had a lifelong interest in mountain rescue.

“Today, the stretcher he designed is well known as the McInnes Stretcher and is used by many mountain rescue teams both in the UK and throughout the world.

“In 2000, when the Cairngorm MRT opened their new rescue base rescue in Aviemore, we were looking for a celebrity to perform the opening ceremony and, in my view, there was only one possible candidate. Hamish was delighted to fill that role. He was generous with his praise and we were honoured he gave us his support.

“His name and memory will live on in all our hearts and minds.”

Members of the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team also paid tribute. In a statement online they said: “The team would like to like to pay its respects to Hamish MacInnes OBE who has passed away today. We have worked closely with Hamish and Glencoe MRT for well over 60 years.

“A mountaineering legend, he gave much to Scottish and worldwide mountain rescue. From the rescue stretcher we use today, the MacInnes Mark 6, to the invention of the Pterodactyl ice axe we have much to thank him for. Always willing to advise he cut a major figure in our world and that of more general mountaineering.

“We would like to celebrate his achievements and remember the countless numbers of folk saved on the mountains due to his innovation and tenacity.

“Hamish RIP from all your friends here in Lochaber.”

Expeditions around the world

Hamish MacInnes took part in many expeditions to various parts of the world, including the first British ascent of the Bonatti Pillar of the Dru in the French Alps.

In the Himalayas, he embarked on four expeditions to Mount Everest.

The first of these, in 1953, was his attempt to be the first to conquer the world’s highest mountain, and was an audacious two-man affair which went ahead without permission, visas or money, and whose strategy depended on living off food abandoned by a Swiss expedition the previous year.

However, when MacInnes and his friend John Cunningham arrived at base camp, they found that a young New Zealander, Edmund Hillary, and his Sherpa companion, Tenzing Norgay, had beaten them to it.

Undaunted, they took part in an ascent of the previously unclimbed Pumori nearby, though that proved unsuccessful.

In 1975, he was deputy leader of Chris Bonington’s Everest expedition, which included such renowned figures as Dougal Haston and Doug Scott.

They conquered the south-west face, but MacInnes was nearly killed in an avalanche.

Asked what it was like to be caught in a situation like that, he was typically phlegmatic.

He said: “It certainly concentrates the mind.

“Sometimes, it happens quite suddenly and without warning while, on other occasions, I have felt as if the whole mountainside was slowly slipping away beneath me.

“There is nothing you can do, but go with the flow. I’ve developed a technique in falling.

“I quite deliberately bring my hand up to cover my mouth, so that when I eventually come to a halt under the snow, I will at least have a little space in which to breathe.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]