Katmandu, Nepal -- A 23-year-old Australian man was rescued from a remote snowbound valley after surviving 43 days on only snow and water, it was reported Wednesday.
James Scott, from Brisbane, Australia, was 'doing well' in hospital, taking fluids and soft foods, after the ordeal in the mountains 45 miles north of the Nepalese capital.
His sister Jo Anne, who had never given up hope of finding him, was at his bedside.
Scott went missing while trecking in the mountains before Christmas, shortly before his 23rd birthday. He was due to return to Katmandu by Chrismas, but was last seen alive on Dec. 22 by a fellow Australian.
A rescue mission was immediately launched, supported by the Nepalese army, sherpa guides and police sniffer dogs. The Australian embassy offered a $2,500 award for finding Scott dead or alive.
But nothing was seen of him for more than a month.
He was finally spotted Sunday by a patrolling helicopter, due to be the last effort to trace him, after he waved a blue sleeping bag to attract attention.
'After making three of four passes by helicopter we sighted a blue thing in the snow,' said British mountain guide Carl Harrison, who with a six-man team helped rescue Scott. 'I had a real shock when it started to move. The best thing we were hoping to find was a dead body.'
Scott was winched from an overhanging rock in the snowbound valley before being flown to hospital, said Dr F. Garlick, chief superintendent at the hospital where Scott is now being treated.
'We dont know how he survived. He just has a tremendous spirit to live,' he said.
A hospital announcement Wednesday said Scott's condition continued to improve and he was in no danger.
'He had a comfortable night. He is now taking fluids and soft solids by mouth. The intravenous drip has been removed. There have been no complications. He is doing well,' the statement said.
He was suffering from vitamin deficiency and malnutrition, but surprisingly no frostbite, the statement concluded.
'We don't know of a comparable situation,' Dr. Garlick said. 'He was definitely without food for 40 days, and survived only on snow and ice. It is remarkable.'