The actor met Hamish MacInnes while searching for filming locations in Scotland for Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
A former mountain rescue head, Mr MacInnes, 88, has scaled peaks worldwide and invented life-saving equipment, including a mountain rescue stretcher used globally.
The Scottish mountaineer also helped set up a rope bridge in Glencoe for the Monty Python team, which became the famed Bridge of Death in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Documentary film Final Ascent, which had its UK premiere in Glasgow yesterday, charts how Mr MacInnes pieced his life back together from his own books and films after being sectioned in 2014 with delirium related to dementia.
Speaking yesterday on the last day of at the Glasgow Film Festival, Sir Michael, 75, said: “I’ve had a good working life with Hamish, he’s inspirational really. He’s unlike anyone else I know and he has qualities unlike anybody else I know. After his illness a few years back it’s so great to see him not just back on form but better than ever, almost.”
On the Bridge of Death, Sir Michael said: “This was before CGI and special effects and we had the real thing thanks to Hamish.”
Mr MacInnes revealed how Sir Michael relied on his mountaineering expertise – even calling from the Himalayas. Mr MacInnes said: “I was in the workshop back home and I got a call, he had a satellite phone and he was in the Himalayas and he asked me how far is it to Concordia – that’s a plateau right on K2 – and I said, ‘Well, it’s not that far’.”
Director Robbie Fraser, from Glasgow, said Mr MacInnes has “probably saved thousands of lives” through his rescues, equipment innovations and writing the mountain rescue “bible”, the International Mountain Rescue Handbook.