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Climbers: Conquering World's Toughest Rock Climb 'Surreal'

Ben Margot / Capital Public Radio

Spectators gaze at El Capitan for a glimpse of climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, as seen from the valley floor in Yosemite National Park, Calif.

Ben Margot / Capital Public Radio

(AP) - Two Americans who finished what's considered the world's most difficult rock climb say it's "surreal" realizing a yearslong dream and are glad people were inspired by their journey up a 3,000-foot sheer granite face in Yosemite National Park.

Lifelong friends Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talked to Good Morning America on Thursday about becoming the first to scale El Capitan's Dawn Wall route using only their hands and feet. They used ropes and safety harnesses only in case of falls.

Jorgeson said, "It's pretty surreal to wake up and have the climb complete."

Caldwell spoke briefly, saying he lost his voice yelling at Jorgeson, who had been stalled a tough section that took 11 attempts over seven days.

Native Sacramentan and professional climber  Alex Honnold was among the group at the top of the Dawn Wall to greet Jorgeson and Caldwell. He says he was joined by a contingent of journalists, family and friends and well-wishers.

"It's sort of hard to describe, just how hard this is compared to everything else in El Cap and relative to other walls that have been climbed, but it's really, really hard," says Honnold.

Honnold has known both climbers for years and has seen the preparation that went into their effort. Caldwell started the project seven years ago and Jorgeson joined him a few years after.

"I was just joining in the pilgrimage," says Honnold about cheering for Jorgeson and Caldwell Wednesday. "It was pretty moving, I've been in Yosemite the whole time they've worked on this project ... to see the long process for [Tommy] and then to finally see him realize that, it was pretty exciting. I was super psyched for him."

Honnold says the incredible amount of media attention that the event garnered could be good for the sport. 

"People are more aware of how climbing works and what it is and just the fact that people climb these big walls," he says. "It shows how important places like Yosemite are, having wild places where you can still have cool adventures." 

Honnold has been climbing for 18 years and is well-known for free solo climbing, where ropes and harnesses are not utilized during an ascent.

Listen to CapRadio's interview with Honnold and his suggestions for the best places to climb in the region. 

-Marnette Federis contributed to this report