Also, don't feel you have to go in and out on the same route. Feel free to mix it up a bit. My wife, though already a hiker, did her first ascent of W when we went up through the Great Gulf, up the headwall and summited, then used a combo of Nelson Crag Trail and Wamsutta Trail to drop back down into the Gulf and exited on the Great Gulf Trail from there. Wamsutta is an awesome, wild & rugged trail, but lots of fun. (this was some time ago, but I believe its in the 16-18 mile range round trip)
"LIVE FREE OR DIE...DEATH IS NOT THE WORST OF ALL EVILS." Gen. John Stark. "by reason of much foule weather and Extreme Bad Woods to travel in..." From the letter of my Great Uncle, Samuel Willard (accompanied by my grandfather Henry), to Governor Dummer on August 16, 1725, explaining the reason for his return, being instructed to "range all the country", of the Wawobadenik (White Mountains) July 19-August 16, 1725. I am a 13th generation New Englander and proud of it.