OverviewJoe Devel Peak is a California Thirteener about 2.5 miles west of Mt. Langley, across the upper Rock Creek drainage from the Sierra Crest.
“Joseph Devel was a member of the Wheeler Survey party that made the first ascent of the peak, on September 20, 1875. The name was given by Owen L. Williams of the Sierra Club on July 7, 1937, when he found the records of the Wheeler party, and of later climbers, on the summit. (SCB 23, no. 2, April 1938: 108-9.)”
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
Getting ThereThe most straightforward approach is via New Army Pass, the standard route on Mt. Langley.
Follow the trail to New Army Pass, then continue north past (Old) Army Pass and over a broad ridge. Following a nearly obligatory side trip to Mt. Langley, continue west and drop down to a marshy meadow and on to Upper Soldier Lake. From here, contour around the nose southwest of The Major General and on past three dead Foxtail Pines propped up against one another. Pass a small tarn (does not appear on the USGS quadrangle) and then cross the upper Rock Creek drainage and continue up the other side toward the Erin Lake outlet.
From here, ascend slabs and benches northeast to gain the end of the class 2 SE Ridge of Mt. Pickering. Follow this ridge up to and across the plateau at 3900m, then contour across Pickering’s S Face to the low point in the ridge connecting it to Joe Devel Peak.
The class 2+ NE Ridge is fairly easy, but as you follow its northwest (right) side wheeling slowly around to the east "toward" the summit, one will undoubtedly experience that most cherished of mountain experiences: an interminable series of high points, each obscuring the view of the next, and from the top of the 13th, you can just make out a collection of obvious summit boulders blocking your view of the false summit, beyond which ... ad infinitum.
Several lifetimes later, you may choose to retrace your steps and then continue up the SW Ridge of Mt. Pickering, descending its SE Ridge or dropping down sandy chutes on its S Slopes to Erin Lake.
Red TapeLike most places in the Sierra, you need a Wilderness Permit for overnight camping in the summer. See the Mt. Langley page for details.
Detailed information on permits, regulations and trailhead access can be found on Matthew Holliman’s excellent Eastern Sierra logistics page.
CampingThere is one excellent campsite just above and west of High Lake (a mile or so before New Army Pass). Other large sites exist nearby, but they’re all too close to the lake, its inlet stream or the trail itself. If you’re stuck, please negotiate sharing the one good site or camp right next to the trail, respecting the 100-foot rule prohibiting camping near water.
Upper Soldier Lake (just south of The Major General) is close enough to provide a lovely base camp for a Joe Devel/Pickering climb (if not a second day for Newcomb/Chamberlain). There are huge sandy areas north of the lake that could comfortably sleep an entire battalion.