In planning this trip I noticed a lack of solid trip reports with photos so I created an account and decided to post this info.
On Friday June 12, a group of 8 and I set off from Whitney portal at 10am. Our permit allowed 2 nights on the mountain. All 9 safely reached the summit and returned to the trailhead. Of which, 6 had no mountaineering experience and minimal experience hiking on snow and ice (one had never camped or backpacked before). A rain storm for the first few hours presented minor complications but was actually kind of refreshing. The weather cleared before we reached trailcamp. The trail condition to this point is free of snow with some mud and water running over the trail due to snow melting.
Besides our group there were only maybe 4 other tents at trail camp...garbage and wag bags were only a moderately disgusting issue. We ate dinner, filtered water and got to bed early.
1am- cook (me) wakes up and prepares breakfast and coffee.
2am- wake up call for group-
330am- all 9 are ready and heading up the switchbacks
As far as traction/equipment goes: all but one member had hiking poles, 7/9 has microspike- 1 wore full crampons- 1 wore no foot traction, 2 carried ice axes also (were not needed). Microspikes with hiking poles was preferable to any other arrangement. If you are experienced and comfortable walking on snow then technically no traction is necessary. However microspikes would be very nice under these conditions and even with mountaineering experience I would prefer not to hike this trail without at least 1 hiking pole. 2 poles and microspikes are the best option right now, in my opinion.
Between trail camp and trailcrest: up to just before the cables there was no snow on the trail. (I would like to post a picture here but the interface for this site is not very userfriendly. They are available by request or someone can help me post them) At this point we geared up for snow. There are a few switch backs shortly after the cables that have a major amount of snow at the turning point (ie: the most likely place for a slip) Pics available of these switchbacks as well.
Where the final switchback crosses "the chute", just before trail crest, is probably the only seriously potential danger. (Again I have pictures of this crossing available upon request). Thankfully it is only maybe 50 feet long of exposure to a potential slip, slide and injury. Additionally it appears that someone has cut out a nice 18 inch wide path with an ice axe or some very intentional boot packing. As is usually the case it is a simple thing that the mind can make into a big deal (on our descent we saw some very unprepared and frightened people crossing this slush fest around 11am)
The trail from Trailcrest to the summit has a more solid and continuous snow cover than the switchbacks. There are a few parts where the trail crosses a somewhat steep side slope and has a decent amount of snow. (pics available). Thankfully these are short and the snow was quite solid when we reached them around 7am. Microspikes were convenient for the rest of the trail as the snow was fairly well packed...however I hiked this section with no traction and did not find it challenging or threatening.
The final member of our group reached the summit at 840am. The weather was absolutely perfect: not too hot, not too cold and almost no wind. Furthermore our early start meant we only shared the summit with a few other people- all of which were either coming from the PCT or JMT.
On our descent we saw many people who started too late struggling more with snowy parts due to it not being compacted as it was earlier in the day. I could comment more as to the lack of preparedness of these groups but I will not. My number 1 point is start early! (more on that momentarily)
The trail over the switchbacks had many unexpected water crossings as the hail and snow from the previous day melted off with the existing snow pack (pics available, 8 inches deep in places)
Our last group member returned to camp at around 1:30pm, I think (wasnt as carefully watching the time). There were still people coming up through trail camp on their way up the mountain, which was surprising to me. Around 230 or 3pm dark clouds quickly covered the area and hail began to fall. We all made a dash for our tents and the storm worsened for many hours. The sound of thunder was rather frightening. We hunkered down and considered the many, many people who were higher up on the mountain. I am not a religious person but I felt compelled to pray for their safety. We did not hear of any serious issues but it would not surprise me if there were.
The next morning we awoke to a foot of hail surrounding our tent but the weather was crisp and clear. We hiked out to the trailhead under nice but slightly warm conditions. When we reached the TH at 1130am there were people beginning their ascent and I felt sorry for their timing.
Morals of the story: spikes and poles will be helpful. Start early. Be prepared for serious weather changes (i noticed many people getting sun burned and not prepared for the sun exposure also)
We got someone what lucky as a storm had made the summit very difficult to reach on the day of our approach to camp. Also has we left an hour or 2 later (ie: if we waited for sunrise to leave trailcamp) some of our group would have been descending in a NASTY hail and thunderstorm. Note that this storm was not forecasted and these incidents are most likely to occur later in the day when the season is warm like it presently is.
As far as my amateur prognosis for the snow conditions going forward: barring any new significant snow fall I would guess the switchbacks to be 95% clear of snow in 2 weeks (right now I would say they are 80% clear). During this time expect a lot of water on that part of the trail. The snow beyond trailcrest seemed a lot more solid and was not melting. I would expect snow patches up there to last a few weeks longer than most of the stuff on the switchbacks.
Lots of info here, I hope it is useful. If we can't figure how to post the pics directly on here feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will happily send you the photos of the sections you are interested in.
Happy Trails- Peace!