Hamish MacInnes dies aged 90Newsflash

© BBC Scotland

Scottish climber, inventor and mountain safety pioneer Hamish MacInnes has died aged 90 at his Highland home in Glencoe.

Hamish MacInnes with one of his early mountain rescue dogs.  © BBC Scotland
Hamish MacInnes with one of his early mountain rescue dogs.
© BBC Scotland

MacInnes climbed the Matterhorn as a teenager, and later joined Chris Bonington's Everest expedition in 1975.

Alongside his climbing endeavours, MacInnes was a keen inventor and played a pivotal role in organising and optimising mountain rescue. He is credited with inventing the first all-metal ice axe and a lightweight stretcher that is widely used around the world today.

MacInnes assisted in the founding of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, which he lead for a number of years, and had a hand in setting up the Search and Rescue Dog Association, and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service. Due to his knowledge of safety, MacInnes was often involved in supervising outdoor film productions.

He earned the nicknames 'the Fox of Glencoe' and 'MacPiton'.

In later life, a urinary tract infection caused MacInnes to experience delirium, which was misdiagnosed as dementia. He was sectioned in a psychogeriatric hospital and attempted to escape.

A BBC Scotland film, Final Ascent: The Legend of Hamish MacInnes, documented his health struggles in later life and is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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23 Nov, 2020


Maybe some proof reading would be in order as "MacInnes climbed the Matterhorn at the age of 16 and joined Chris Bonington's Everest expedition in 1953." can't be correct.

23 Nov, 2020

Sad news. I always secretly hoped he might be in the Clachaig whenever I've gone in, just for some at-a-distance hero spotting

23 Nov, 2020

I watched that documentary only last week. It's well worth seeing, not only for the wonderful archive and the appreciation of all that he achieved in climbing (and safety), but also for an appreciation of the bravery of the man in discussing his recent hospitalization in such honest terms. It's not `mentioned in passing' or `glided over' but kicks off the film and is stripped right through it.

23 Nov, 2020

His own account has him as 18 for his solo ascent of the Matterhorn... pretty incredible really.

Such a massive contribution to the mountaineering and rescue community, a true legend - what a loss.

23 Nov, 2020

Sad news, I took my first roped moves with him belaying me, and for a while, saw him a lot. I spent a lot of my summer holidays as a child staying on a croft on Loch Torridon between Alligin and Diabaig. Hamish had a cabin in the next bay along the shore, and knew the crofts owner and my Grandfather well, we would regularly row round and see him and his American girlfriend. I loved his stories about the Alps and the Himalayas and my sister loved hearing about Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood. It was always a treat to go to his cabin and row back in the dark. He set up a rope for me up a small slab and... 40 years later I still fart about on rocks. It was only when I got properly into climbing in my 20's that I realised quite what a gnarly visionary he was.

Cheers Hamish.

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