KATHMANDU • A Taiwanese trekker is recovering in hospital after rescuers found him and his dead girlfriend on a mountainside in Nepal, where they were stranded for 47 days with only water and salt after their food ran out.
Ms Liu Chen-chun, 18, died just three days before the rescue team located the couple in north-west Nepal, but her boyfriend managed to survive despite losing 30kg during the ordeal. A severely malnourished Liang Sheng-yueh, 20, was being treated in hospital in Kathmandu, where he was airlifted after being rescued from the remote region.
The pair had followed a river downstream in the hope of finding a village, but became stuck when they reached the edge of a waterfall and were unable climb back up.
They survived on potatoes and noodles until their food ran out.
The families of the trekkers alerted the authorities when they did not get in touch as scheduled on March 10. Mr Liang's father travelled to Nepal after the couple went missing and chartered a helicopter to search for them.
A friend, Mr Chou Chiang-chieh, said the pair were biking from India to Nepal on a "dream adventure". Another high school friend remembered Ms Liu as a "happy child" always seeking new places to go.
The couple had been hiking at about 3,000m high without a guide. Tour operators have been pushing for guides to be mandatory if trekkers go above a certain altitude, said Mr Ang Tsering Sherpa, head of Nepal's mountaineering association.
"Even popular routes can be tricky to navigate for new trekkers if there is snow or any other disturbances," he said.