The route described here is actually the Beckey-Reese East Face with the Cameron Burns/Steve Porcella 3-pitch direct variation finish known as "The Illywacker". It is unclear where Fred's route actually finishes - the Porcella/Burns book indicates it traverses off left below the headwall to finish, Secor describes 5.10 chimneys on the headwall, and in Fred's 100 Favorites books he talks about a rightward traverse below the headwall. Who actually knows? Described as a 16 pitch route elsewhere, we managed to do the route in 10 pitches, one of them being a long simulclimb.
The route begins by scrambling up the couloir left of Day Needle. This is a serious proposition. Beware of extremely loose & rotten rock, and rockfall from above. During early season this may be a snow and ice filled gully. A few 4th class steps lead up to an obvious mossy chimney on the right side of the gully with some chockstones at its top. This is a good place to rope up.
P1) Out the chimney with loose chockstones at its top, across a large ledge, then up steep broken cracks directly above to a belay on broken ledges on the buttress proper. 5.8 50M
P2) Up shallow cracks and seams with some roofs on the buttress. Gear is spotty, but the climbing is never hard. I managed to find some solid gear to belay from beneath a large roof. 5.8 50M
P3) Out the roof on a sweet tight-hands crack, up easier terrain to a belay in a low-angle handcrack/groove. 5.9? 40M
P4) Out another roof with a shallow finger crack, up a left facing corner with fingers to a belay at the start of the long 3rd-4th class stretch. 5.7 30M.
P5) Long simulclimb up easy but loose ground just to the left of the prow. 4th 100M
P6) Up loose flakes and cracks just left of the prow. You are aiming for a belay at the base of a nice right-facing corner with a fixed bong. 5.8 50M
P7) The crux of the original route. Steep stemming and jamming up the corner above the bong to a large platform ledge at the base of the headwall. 5.9+ 40M
Escape option to the left towards the notch from here. 2 pitches 5th class.
P8) Up left slanting ramps and cracks. Belay wherever you can find a good stance/gear. 5.8 50M
P9) Continue up the left-slanting cracks to a belay at the base of an ominous right-leaning OW crack. 5.7 40M
P10) Crux. A few chimney moves up to the left of the OW, then out onto super exposed and steep knobby face. Described as "runout" by Porcella & Burns, I found ample small gear through this section. Continue left and up around horns and up handcracks to the summit plateau. 55M 5.10
The route begins by scrambling up heinously loose 3rd-4th class rubble and scree in the gully to the left of Day Needle. In early season, this may be snow and ice filled and may require crampons/axe. To descend, there are two options. Day trippers can casually walk the Whitney mule trail back to the Portal. Overnight campers in the North Fork will have to hike to the summit of Whitney from Day Needle and descend the mountaineer's route back into the drainage.
A full double rack to 3". We brought a 4" piece, but it was not necessary and hardly used.