LEGENDARY Scottish mountaineer Dr Hamish MacInnes has died at the age of 90.

Widely considered to be the pioneer of modern mountain rescue, MacInnes famously climbed the Matterhorn in the Alps when he was just 16.

He later summited Everest and was involved in Sir Chris Bonington’s successful bid to climb the south-west face of the mountain in 1975.

The Scot is credited with inventing the first all-metal ice-axe and a lightweight stretcher, widely used in mountain and helicopter rescue.

He was born in 1930 in Gatehouse of Fleet in Kirkcudbrightshire, and based himself in Glencoe, where he died on Sunday.

MacInnes was among the founders of Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, as well as the Search and Rescue Dog Association and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service.

Former RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team leader David Whalley said: "The people he must have saved over the years because of his work in mountain rescue and the stretchers he invented must be incredible.

"He has left a wonderful legacy."

He added: "If we were talking in terms of football, he was Lionel Messi.

"At Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team he brought together a great team of local people. It was amazing."

During his long and varied career, MacInnes worked with Hollywood stars Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery and Robert De Niro on such films as The Eiger Sanction, Five Days One Summer and the Mission.

In 2014, the mountaineer was wrongly diagnosed with dementia after suffering delirium caused by an acute urinary infection.

He was held in psychogeriatric detainment in hospital, and made attempts to escape from the building, including scaling up the outside of the hospital to stand on its roof.

His recovery from the illness was documented in the 2018 film, Final Ascent:The Legend of Hamish MacInnes.

John Allen, the former head of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team, was among those to pay tribute to the pioneering climber.

He said: “The Scottish hills are darker and emptier today following the passing of the iconic and universally respected Hamish McInnes.

“In addition to being a world-class mountaineer, Hamish had a lifelong interest in mountain rescue.

“Today, the stretcher he designed is well known as the McInnes Stretcher and is used by many mountain rescue teams both in the UK and throughout the world.

“In 2000, when the Cairngorm MRT opened their new rescue base rescue in Aviemore, we were looking for a celebrity to perform the opening ceremony and, in my view, there was only one possible candidate. Hamish was delighted to fill that role. He was generous with his praise and we were honoured he gave us his support.

“His name and memory will live on in all our hearts and minds.”