Personally I only have one alternate at a time, but I have tons of +exp gear. Doing that plus playing on high MP's, but still able to one-two shot (use high quality rubies in weapon sockets) will level you relatively quickly without having to grind.
My p13 DH died, so I just cleared normal again, level 36, no grinding, about 4-6 hours, not sure exactly. But you just have to be prepared, and realize that death is what makes HC much more thrilling. I couldn't go back to unlimited deaths, that to me is super boring.