The advice so far has been helful and somewhat cautionary.
I've decided to take the full tent which means I'll almos surely be taking my nit so lightweight Gregory pack instead of mu ULA Conduit - just don't think I can fit it all, with the Bearikade, in that little guy. But I'll do a test fit as soon as the can arrives (rented it).
Our latest plan is to start at about 60ish miles from Whitney, entering at Kearsarge Pass. Higher altitudes down here which means greater likelihood of early season storms, I think. Bringing some traction for ice, but wasn't planning on anything specific for snow.
My other concern, as echoed in the forum thread linked-to above, is white-out navigation. I know how to use a compass and map, and were bringing a SPOT as a last resort (though I know it's nothing to be counted on). Additional advice?