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The rise, fall and subsequent self-rescue of one of the world’s most accomplished mountaineers is sensitively portrayed in a new documentary film which will be screened on Skye tomorrow night (Friday).
As part of Skye Events for All’s year-round touring programme, director Robbie Fraser (The Bridge Rising, Aly Bain’s America) comes to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig to present Final Ascent: The Legend of Hamish MacInnes.
Most people will know MacInnes as a Scottish mountaineer, mountain search and rescuer, author and advisor.
During his lifetime, he has climbed the world’s highest mountain regions; has made a remarkable contribution to mountain rescue and equipment design; and is responsible for saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
Born in Gatehouse of Fleet in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1930, he established the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team and designed his eponymous stretcher as well as the first all-metal ice axe.
He has directed films on the subject and written 26 books, including the International Mountain Rescue Handbook, published in 1972.
At the age of 84, however, MacInnes suffered from an acute urinary infection where a misdiagnosis had him committed to an institution for delirium.
After a spell in psychogeriatric detainment in a Highland hospital, during which he made many escape attempts – he emerged to find his memory gone.
This film, which opens with some warm words from MacInnes’s friend and Monty Python legend Michael Palin, tells the story of his life by mirroring his greatest challenge: to recover his memories and rescue himself.
When Fraser interviewed MacInnes for a BBC documentary, he learned about the bewildering and deeply traumatising experience.
Fraser explained: ‘When he came out of care, he told us that all memory of his previous life had gone. What he did next seems extraordinary.
‘As well as undergoing physical and psychological rehabilitation with the help of his friends, he seems to have rebooted his mind, using the vast collection of images, films and writings from his 60-year career and back into his childhood. This is a fascinating feat in and of itself.’
The event takes place at 7.30pm and is followed by a question and answer session with Fraser.
Hamish MacInnes, far right, with director Robbie Fraser, centre, and Michael Palin. Photograph: MAGIC B FILMS.