You now need a permit for even a day trip on Mountaineer's Route/N fork of Lone Pine. I called the InterAgency office the day before my trip and they left it in a lockbox for me to pick up that night.
I think the final gully to the summit is 4th class. At the beginning of it if you fell you'd take the big ride. To me that is 4th class.
While a permit is indeed now required, there is not a quota for day hikers. The folks in the Bishop office, postulated, to my girlfriend and I, that issuing the permits without a quota was being used to determine a quota at some point in the future.
Small correction: under the Approach section you actually tunnel through dense Alder - I believe Green Alder. 'Tunnelling' is a great description though.