A mountain-rescue pioneer will be the first recipient of a new award, to be presented at the end of the upcoming Fort William Mountain Festival.
Hamish MacInnes, the man who turned his mountaineering expertise to the invention of a new stretcher, the introduction of search and rescue dogs into his native Scotland and the production of a handbook on mountain rescue, will receive the inaugural Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.
Dr MacInnes will be presented with the award at a ceremony on 23 February in the Lochaber town, which will include a DVD presentation detailing his achievements and containing testimonials from friends and fellow climbers.
The festival’s chairman Mike Pescod said: “Mountains have always inspired artists, sportspeople, conservationists, musicians, photographers and writers.
“Those people in our mountain community never consciously strive for recognition of their talent and commitment. We feel that this award will not only celebrate their amazing achievements and contributions but will also represent the recognition of their peers.”
Dr MacInnes pioneered much of Scotland’s winter climbing. He was born in 1930 in Gatehouse of Fleet but has lived for much of his life in and around Glencoe. With Chris Bonington, he put up the first successful winter routes on two of Buachaille Etive Mòr’s classics, Raven’s Gully and Crowberry Ridge Direct.
He is credited with the introduction of metal-handled ice axes after suffering successive failures of wooden-shafted ones in Scotland. He also led the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and was deputy leader on Chris Bonington’s 1975 Everest expedition.
He ‘starred’ as a climbing double in the Clint Eastwood film The Eiger Sanction and is also said to have been the man who threw the dummy into the Gorge of Eternal Peril in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Bridge of Death footage of which was filmed in Glencoe.
Dr MacInnes was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. He has also received the OBE and the BEM.
In 1953, along with John Cunningham, he mounted an unsuccessful shoestring bid on Everest, two decades before he eventually succeeded. His search for the legendary yeti never bore fruit, but he was victorious in his ascent of Roraima, a Guyanan ‘lost world’ peak, surrounded by jungle with poisonous spiders lurking on its ledges.
The Fort William Mountain Festival starts this Friday, 15 February.