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Matilija Wall
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Chouinard-Bossier T 
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YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 220', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Yvon Chouinard & Tex Bossier, early 1970's
Page Views: 1,091
Submitted By: Richard Shore on Feb 14, 2012

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Richard Shore up high on P1 of the Chouinard-Bossi...


The Chouinard-Bossier is a classic line that follows beautiful natural features up the left side of the Matilija Wall. Unfortunately, on closer inspection it becomes obvious that the route is replete with loose rock, carpets of lichen and moss up to 1" thick, and poison oak growing out of the cracks. The route is more like modern-day 5.10 than 5.9, and has a particularly dangerous section on the second pitch. Either this route was in a much different condition during the FA, or these two dudes were beyond badass (both likely). Whatever the case, it is a testament to the bold, adventurous climbers of days past.

P1) climb up an awesome right-facing dihedral system with great fingerlocks and liebacking. Try to enjoy the sweet jams as you thrash upward through poison oak, all while your hands and arms are swarmed with biting ants.  At about 70', the crack takes an abrupt horizontal left turn for about 10' before turning straight up again. The original (and rather in-obvious) line continues traversing left another 10' past the end of the horizontal to a sloping, dirty, and rocky belay ledge. This way is NOT 5.9, and mildly runout. I was instead seduced by the crack that continued upward after the horizontal, which sadly dead-ended another 15' higher. I tried to push through the lichenous, rotten face above with hopes of linking this into P2, but was thwarted by the terrible rock. At this point I did an A0 tension traverse/pendulum left to the belay ledge. Belay off a large and possibly insecure boulder here. There are no options for a gear anchor. Seriously. 80', 5.10 or 5.9 A0.

P2) this one was scary, and I was only on belay duty! Unprotected hard moves directly off the belay through nasty broken rock for 15' leads to an ancient lost arrow piton, hammered into a strange hole in the rock. Enter the nicer crack and right-facing flake system above. Sustained and strenuous liebacking up this 4" wide, near-vertical section is likely the crux of the route. The lichen is thickest here and adds some spice to the already insecure footwork. Above the angle eases off and easier blocky terrain heads up to the top. 140', 5.9+/.10 R.


Left-most route on the main wall. An obvious line. Walk-off from the flat summit plateau.


Nuts and hexes from small to 4".  Do it old-school and go all passive! A #4 camalot would be really nice on the second pitch though.. my partner wished he had one when he took a 30' lead fall onto a 3" hex!

Photos of Chouinard-Bossier Slideshow Add Photo
Mark Collar high on P2 of the Chouinard-Bossier
Mark Collar high on P2 of the Chouinard-Bossier
Richard Shore embracing the chossy poison oak-fest...
Richard Shore embracing the chossy poison oak-fest...
Mark Collar on P2 of the Chouinard-Bossier 5.9
Mark Collar on P2 of the Chouinard-Bossier 5.9
Looking up at the Chouinard-Bossier route from the...
Looking up at the Chouinard-Bossier route from the...

Comments on Chouinard-Bossier Add Comment
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By Richard Shore
Feb 14, 2012

Normally, I wouldn't give a short runout an R rating. But on P2 of this route, the consequences of a fall at the no-pro, friable start are very real. A 20' bone-breaker followed by a tumble off the sloping ledge on which your belayer is anchored only by a 500 lb. semi-secure boulder warrants an R if not a XX rating (XX = bElay anchor fails and both climbers fall to their doom). A 2-bolt anchor on the ledge here would provide a reasonable level of safety for at least one of the climbers. I know that adding belay bolts to this established route sounds blasphemous, but I probably wouldn't go back to this without a hammer and drill.
By andy patterson
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 14, 2012

Richard, you are my hero.

A truly grand effort.

By Jon Hanlon
From: SLO
Feb 14, 2012


Great entry and strong work indeed!
By staem
Feb 28, 2013

We all want to go to the wall. You did it in a inspirational ascent. Climbing Art cannot be painted over. people must not add new fixed gear, or go ask Yvon. Any face climbing potential?, is the rock better than the Fortress? I Think this was one of a few repeats that deserves applause and maybe historical significance.
By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Jun 21, 2013

Right on, Richard. While I'm not from the Ventura/Ojai area I've driven by the Matilija Wall and marveled at its massive potential. Thank you for your perseverance and an awesome job of archiving this obscure bit of climbing history. The Matilija Wall appears to have more than its share of objective hazards. Looks like fun. Thanks, again.
By Trevor Roberson
From: Oxnard, California
Jun 19, 2014

Bold climbing! Thanks for posting about this obscure rock. I don't get poison oak so I may have to do some bushwacking one day.
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