SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin Jorgeson's hands still bear souvenirs from the historic climb Dawn Wall of El Capitan he completed with his partner last week. The scabs on his fingertips are so thick that track pads on computers and phones don't register his touch.
Jorgeson and partner Tommy Caldwell spent 19 days scaling the wall, using only their hands and feet to propel themselves up the 3,000-foot sheer granite wall that has long been considered the world's most difficult climb.
Jorgeson, 30, spoke Thursday at the world's largest outdoor product show in Salt Lake City, saying he's gone from a hard-won perch in the stillness above Yosemite National Park to waking up at 3 a.m. for live TV interviews with journalists around the world.
"It really made me think, what's it mean to be a part of this little news cycle?" he said at the biannual Outdoor Retailer Show, where manufacturers gather to show their latest recreational products to retailers.
The pair never thought the feat would gain attention outside climbing circles, but Jorgeson said he's hoping people who were struck by the themes of struggle and teamwork are inspired to tackle their own obstacles.
"Take the Dawn Wall as an example of what's possible," he said.
The men lived on the wall during the climb, eating and sleeping in tents fastened to the sheer granite thousands of feet above the ground. They used ropes only for safety in case of a fall.
Jorgeson said he's been a climber since he was 16 but had never taken on El Capitan before hearing that Caldwell was considering the trek and would join him. They trained on the wall for years, falling thousands of times, before they completed the route. Video of their training and climbing is being made into a movie.
Now that the climb is done, Jorgeson said he's going to rest and heal awhile before he plans his next project.
"It's so intense and it's such a roller coaster, and it requires absolutely everything you have mentally and physically to do it. It's really a draining experience," he said. "I'm excited, but mentally, when it comes to tackling another huge project, I'm a little tired."