Myself and three friends in our 30s summited around noon on Monday. It was each of our first times to do Mt. Whitney with various experience in the Sierras and mountain hiking.
We began walking at 3am... no moon, some snow on the trail starting at the first water crossing and very very very cold. We took 10 minute breaks in the dark at Lone Pine Lake and Trailside Meadows (filled up on water). The sun rose as we passed through Trail Camp and were greeted by some campers warming up from their night in the squall.
Two more 10 minute breaks at bottom and top of switchbacks. Most of switchbacks were still covered in dusting of snow and some ice around the cables... we went extra slow and cautiously and didn't have any slips/issues. Reached Trail crest at 9:30.
We did extensive preparation and research but these final two miles exceeded our expectations. These miles are very challenging physically and mentally and I would encourage everyone preparing for their first Whitney climb to not underestimate this stretch of the trail. Hydrate well and pay attention to altitude related symptoms because you will be above 13000 feet for the next couple of hours at the very least. Fortunately it also has the most spectacular views of Sequoia/Kings NPs.
By the time we reached the top the sun had warmed up the mountain enough that we could remove our hat and gloves for pictures. There was still enough snow and ice on the switchbacks to slow our decent but after that it was smooth sailing with typically beautiful clear sky sunset. We finished around 7pm (didn't break any records but still beat our conservative expectations).
We all agreed that hiking "Iron Mountain" near Baldy was a challenging and excellent final preparation hike - accomplishing its grueling final ascent gave us all confidence going into Whitney. Two of our crew also hiked to Cottonwood Lake #5 from Horseshoe meadows two days prior to our Whitney climb. It's a 14 mile roundtrip hike at 10k+ feet elevation that also boosted our confidence even though we didn't catch any trout.
The payoff of ALL FOUR of us summiting together and returning to the portal safe and sound was enormous. Personally, the views along the way were just as epic as the scene at the top. Grateful to have this goal achieved and figuring out what's next now.