Hamish MacInnes introduced mountain rescue innovations. Photo: Hyparxis CC-BY-SA-4.0

Hamish MacInnes introduced mountain rescue innovations. Photo: Hyparxis CC-BY-SA-4.0

Mountain rescuers have paid tribute to pioneering climber and innovator Hamish MacInnes, who has died aged 90.

MacInnes, who lived in Glen Coe, was for many years a member of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, including a stint as team leader.

Scottish Mountain Rescue, which represents 24 of the nation’s 28 teams, said it was extremely saddened to hear the mountaineer had passed away.

It said: “Hamish spent his lifetime dedicated to mountain rescue and the great outdoors in Scotland.

“Hamish was known for bringing search dogs to Scotland and setting up the Search and Rescue Dog Association. He played a big part in developing the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and created the iconic MacInnes Rescue Stretcher, which is still used today in rescue callouts worldwide.

“To add to the list of his achievements he also designed the first all-metal ice-axe. He devoted a huge amount of his time, knowledge and experience to mountain safety and mountain rescue.”

David ‘Heavy’ Whalley, former RAF MRT team leader said: “He was without doubt a world authority on mountain rescue and was always willing to advise and assist many of us throughout our mountain rescue lives.

“He was always at the forefront of rescue and I owe him so much for his advice over the years, as do so many that climb in these great hills. His knowledge and his skill as a mountaineer are well known but it is Hamish the man, the leader in his own quiet way that stands out.

“He was a very caring and private man, yet was in regularly in contact with those relatives he has rescued in the past.”

Damon Powell, chair of Scottish Mountain Rescue, said: “Everyone in mountain rescue across Scotland will be deeply saddened by today’s news. We all walk in his footsteps and in his shadow.

“Hamish was the instigator of all that we are and do in mountain rescue today. He set a standard for us to be the best at what we do and we continue to strive to meet that challenge. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all his family and friends.”

MacInnes was born in Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire, in 1930. He climbed the Matterhorn at the age of 16 and posted first ascents, with Chris Bonington, of winter routes on Buachaille Etive Mòr in Glen Coe in 1953.

In 1975 he teamed up again with Bonington as deputy leader of the expedition to Everest’s south-west face. He also provided safety services during production of films, including The Eiger Sanction, starring Clint Eastwood.

In 2008, he was the first person to receive the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

In later life he encountered mental-health problems and spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Hamish MacInnes died at his home in Glen Coe on Sunday.

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