SYDNEY - A man was recovering in hospital Saturday after spending a night trapped in a crevice with multiple injuries on central Australia's popular tourist attraction of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock.
The 27-year-old, reportedly Taiwanese, was believed to have strayed off a well-worn route on the daunting formation on Thursday, and plunged up to 20 metres (65 feet) into the crevice.
"It is believed the man took an alternative route to reach the base and became separated from his group," a police spokesman said.
He was reported missing shortly before sunset on Thursday with rescue workers locating him after an aerial search and then spending much of Friday trying to extract him.
The difficult rescue involved traversing a steep rock face and abseiling down to the man before he was winched free and airlifted to hospital.
"It was very exhausting for the man and crews, but just after 5.30pm on Friday he was winched out," Northern Territory Superintendent Louise Jorgensen told reporters.
"He was taken out to the Yulara clinic with head injuries and leg injuries." He was later transferred to Alice Springs Hospital with a spokesman on Saturday saying his condition had since been downgraded from critical to stable.
For many tourists, seeing the giant red rock in the middle of the vast desert and making the arduous climb up its steep slopes is a must-do on their visit to Australia.
But tackling the sandstone monolith, which rises 348 metres (1,148 feet), is not an easy exercise and there have been several deaths on the rock over the years.
The striking geographical feature, surrounded by thousands of square miles (kilometres) of desolate Outback, forms a key part of Aboriginal creation mythology and attracts about 350,000 tourists a year.