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'Fox of Glencoe' awarded honour

22 February 08 21:30 GMT

He is a world-renowned climber, innovator and inventor of mountaineering equipment, leading search and rescuer, author and adviser.

Now Hamish MacInnes, 77, is to be honoured for his dedication to mountaineering with a new award.

Mr MacInnes, from Glencoe, will be the first to receive the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture.

He is known for scaling the world's most dangerous peaks and his MacInnes stretcher is used internationally.

Born in Dumfries and Galloway in 1930 and known as the 'Fox of Glencoe' in reference to his cunning as a mountaineer, he is recognised widely as the father of modern mountain rescue in Scotland.

He designed the first all-metal ice axe, founded the Search and Rescue Dog Association and set up the Scottish Avalanche Information service.

In addition he has written 21 books on mountaineering, including the International Mountain Rescue Hand Book, first published in 1972 and considered the standard manual around the world.

Directors of films such as Clint Eastwood's The Eiger Sanction and Robert De Niro's The Mission have also benefited from his expertise when he was hired as an adviser on set.

Yet despite these achievements, he claimed the award was not necessary.

"I am delighted to be receiving this award although I always get a bit embarrassed when I receive awards," he said.

"I never think I deserve these things.

"But it's always nice to get one in my own backyard and especially from the Scottish mountaineering community."

Heading for the hills

A recent knee injury has curtailed his climbing, although he still heads for the hills whenever he can.

"I can't go on the high tops at the moment because of the injury but as soon as my knee is okay I will be right up there again," he added.

The award will be presented by the Highland Mountain Culture Association, which organises the Fort William Mountain Festival, at a ceremony on Saturday.

Mike Pescod, the chairman of the association, said the award was about recognising the importance of mountain culture, which he claimed was vital to the area.

"We are making this inaugural award to Hamish because for so many years he has contributed a massive amount in so many different fields," he added.

"He invented modern climbing, along with several others, in the late sixties and early seventies and is still contributing today."

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