I should first preface this by saying I never thought climbing in late October would be feasible, much less enjoyable. My friend and I completed the climb in 14 hours, and weather couldn't have been better. Both of us are in our mid 30s and in shape with occupations that keep us active. I have climbed a number of other 14ers in Colorado (17 of them) but my friend had never attempted anything like this.
We stayed the night in the Lone Pine Best Western. We got up at 0300 to drive to the Whitney Portal trailhead by 0400 and started in the darkness with headlamps. The first part of the trail was a whole bunch of switchbacks which we mostly "zoned out" for. It was cold (not sure exactly how cold, but the lines of my camelbak kept freezing) and early and dark so we mostly plodded along in silence. The trail was snow free and mostly dry, with a few parts that had some minor muddy areas.
Day started to break right as we passed through treeline around 11,500 feet at 06:20. We were able to stop using our headlamps at 0700 right before we reached consultation lake. A few patches of snow/ice appeared on the trail but they were few and far between. At 0720 we reached consultation lake and the Trail Camp area shortly after. We rested about 20 minutes then started up the switchbacks around 0740.
The switchbacks were by far the worst part of the trip. They were mostly clear with some small patches of snow and ice, but nothing to be concerned about. The cables were iced up but the ice was easily avoidable. It took 2 hours up the switchbacks until we reached the ridgeline at 0945. We rested about 20 minutes.
The remainder of the trail behind Mt Muir and along the ridge was clear and relatively easy. Once you hit Whitney and are just below the summit there is a small area that is iced over, but you can scramble above or below it, or if you're careful, through it. The main issue at this point was fatigue.
We summited at 11:25, so a total of 7.5 hours to the top. No snow whatsoever on the summit, not a cloud in the sky, everything was perfect. We stayed on the summit about an hour before heading back down. It was easier going downhill and in daylight, and the only real surprise was how many switchbacks we had "zoned out" at the very beginning of the trail. They seemed like they would never end, but again, that was likely due to fatigue. We made it back to our vehicle at 17:45, so a total of 5.25 hours to get down.
Total amount of time on the hike was 13.75 hours, in motion for roughly 12 hours total when you take out the rest stops we made. It was gorgeous the entire way and the weather was perfect, I would highly recommend attempting a summit at this time of year to anyone who is wary of going outside the summer season.
Last edited by ModernWolf; 11/01/19 10:51 AM.