Before my trip, i wasn't so sure what to expect and this forum has been really useful to me to have some information, so here is my stone.
I was my first trip to the Whitney area.
I only had a one day permit, so i stayed in Lone Pine the night before. Woke up at 2AM, ate something and started on the trail at about 2:45.
I hadn't been at high altitudes in a while and i didn't know how i would react, so i wasn't sure what to expect. I wanted to have all the time i needed.
I decided before i even started that i wasn't aiming for the summit but that if everything would go fine, i would go all the way to Trail Crest, which i basically what i did.
There was no moon and even with my flashlight, i had issues finding the trail. I fortunately bought a map but lost it an hour into the trail (still don't know where). I had a copy on my phone which was really useful.
The beginning of the trail was really easy but after 45minutes or so, i was in the snow and lost the trail. I then followed some tracks that were climbing in the snow. It was cold so very icy. I put my crampons on at that time. Kept tham on all the way up. Funny fact is that is that first part before Mirror Lake where i found them the most useful.
After Mirror lake, i just followed the tracks of 2 people who camped half way up (outpost camp?). That was extremely useful for me and saved me a lot of time as it snowed the day before and it covered all the tracks.
I don't have an exact time but i think it took me about 4 hours to go from the parking lot to the bottom of the cascade. Then i think another hour and a half to trail crest (i stopped right under it as the wind was pretty bad). That last ascent was a pain. The group in front of me turned around half way up because of altitude sickness and as it snowed the day before and because of the wind, i had to do the track all by myself and it was slow.
The descent was really easy. I took the crampons off right away and just half walked-half ran back to the parking lot. I was there at 10:30am, so about 8hours for the entire trip.
Weather: got lucky, it was the perfect weather, sunny without any cloud (wonderful pictures!)
Gear: I used crampons and also had a an ice axe, To be honest, i didn;t want to brig one, but had been convinced to do so. I didn't use it but i think it's still safer to have one just in case. i saw 2 guys with snowshoes later that day. Once the sun is up i guess that can be an option but i don't see making it to the top without crampons (and being safe). I had ski poles which were (by far) the most useful gear i had.
Bag: i made the mistake of carrying 4 liter of water. During my trip, i didn't even drink 2, and the other 2 are back in the car. Not really the best thing to do especially as you can refill at Mirror Lake.
To summarize, i was really stressed out not knowing what to expect as i was a first timer, but it went really well, and i enjoyed every moment of it!