“Barrett Peak” lies just 0.3 miles southeast of Polemonium Peak
in the northern Palisades
. According to measurements with barometric altimeters, it meets the 300' prominence criterion for inclusion in the California Thirteeners
with but two feet to spare (i.e., really too close to call). It’s an easy class 2-3 scramble from the saddle connecting it to Polemonium Peak
and the rest of the North Palisade
This peak shares its (unofficial) name with the Barrett Lakes in the Palisade Basin, just 1.5 miles to the west. The name was apparently attached to this peak as early as December 1968, when it appeared in The Sierra Echo (Vol. 12, No. 11)
, a publication of the Sierra Peaks Section.
Note: Just to confuse matters, on some maps the name Polemonium Peak has been placed erroneously on “Barrett Peak”.
The easiest routes to most of the northern Palisades are from the west via the Dusy and Palisade Basins. To get to “Barrett Peak”, Polemonium Peak
and Mt. Sill
this way, you continue on over Potluck Pass then turn north.
Take 395 to Bishop, then 168 (Lake Sabrina Road) west for 15 miles. Turn left (south) on the South Lake Road and continue for 5.8 miles to the popular Bishop Pass Trailhead (9800'+). Climb about 2200' over 5 miles to Bishop Pass, then turn left and continue cross country through the high part of the Dusy Basin, over 12,360'+ “Thunderbolt Pass”, and across the high part of the Palisade Basin to 12,120'+ Potluck Pass. As mentioned above, you turn north here and follow the drainage up to the little glacier hanging below Polemonium Peak and the saddle connecting it to “Southeast Polemonium”. Bring your ice axe and crampons.
I highly recommend R. J. Secor’s The High Sierra, Peaks Passes & Trails
(now in its third edition). This is the definitive climbing guide to the Sierra and was the source for many of the details on my SummitPost pages.
Like most places in the Sierra, you need a Wilderness Permit for overnight camping in the summer. The South Lake Trail is extremely popular given the height of the trailhead and its proximity to the crest. If you’re forced to use the overflow overnight parking lot, the ro-sham loser will have an extra 1.5 miles to hike.
Detailed information on permits, regulations and trailhead access can be found on Matthew Holliman’s excellent Eastern Sierra logistics page
There are several small sites just below Bishop Pass, northwest of the small lake. From here, it’s a relatively easy day (though perhaps not an unbroken joyride) to Potluck Pass, one of the best places to camp in the Sierra. Potluck has sandy tent spots near the very summit of the pass, reasonably sure water sources nearby, and absolutely stunning sunset views in all directions. “Thunderbolt Pass” is nice as well, particularly if you’re also climbing Thunderbolt Peak
and North Palisade
on the same trip.