Successful one day summit hike on 10/8/18!
Two hikers from Reno, NV in pretty good shape. We've been doing some conditioning hikes at elevation, including Half Dome, Mount Tallac, and Freel Peak, and living at decent elevation (4,500) helped. Got to Lone Pine on Saturday and camped at Lone Pine campground. Storms were pretty bad Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning. Wind and rain at the campground and added more snow on the mountain on top of the snow from the midweek storm. Hiked to Lone Pine lake Sunday afternoon to spend some time acclimatizing at 10,000 ft. It was also really nice to see a good chunk of the hike we'd be doing at night during the day, and Lone Pine lake was beautiful.
Hit the trail at 3am on Monday. We moved quickly past Lone Pine Lake, past Outpost camp and up towards Trail Camp and passed quite a few groups. It was very cold as we approached Trail Camp, and we would not have been able to continue without good layers (including an extra layer under our hiking pants, several top layers, a ski shell to break the wind, and ski mitts with handwarmers. The handwarmers were key. Bring plenty. We also had emergency blankets, bivvy sacks, and a Resqlink beacon that would have been crucial in the event of emergency/being stuck overnight).
The sun rose as we were approaching Trail Camp and we started up the switchbacks. Snow was laying in earnest starting at the cables, with some areas having significant snow depth and others being icy, and we were happy to have Yaktrax (we got the diamond grip style). Microspikes could have been nice for the extra traction, but the the snow/ice was mixed with clear sections, so the lower profile Yaktrax were nice when having to navigate rocks in between the snow/ice. Slow going and poles were important.
Trail Crest was gorgeous, but we had no idea what was ahead of us! The 1.9 miles after Trail Crest were brutal and we would go a very short distance before stopping for a rest. This section took us about 2 hours. Had a low level headache and felt slightly dizzy at times. Gummy blocks, water, and rest helped. We also took 400mg of ibuprofen as we passed Lone Pine Lake and 400mg more right after Trail Crest. That seemed to help us. In retrospect we were probably carrying too much water (6 and 7 liters each) and the pack was really slowing us down at the top. After the recent rains/snow that's melting during the day, we should have carried less water and used the water sources and iodine tablets we had brought.
Summitted around 12pm. The top was gorgeous and we spent about 45 minutes before heading back down. We moved at a good pace and didn't take our Yaktrax off again until we were past the cables. Made it back to the Whitney Portal parking lot at 6pm. The way back felt long...really long...and we were happy we hustled on the way back since it was starting to get dark and cold again.
We ended up abandoning our campsite for the night and stayed in a hotel in Lone Pine since we really wanted a real bed and shower. Lone Pine campground is beautiful and convenient but exposed to the wind, and we found it hard to get uninterrupted sleep with the wind shaking our tent.
Final thoughts - this hike is incredible but tough. Over prepare (research/weather watching, physically, and gear-wise), don't be afraid to turn back (safety first!), leave no trace, and thank you to this forum for giving us great information and resources!