OK, time to come clean.
I climbed MtW this past weekend as a dad with a group of Boy Scouts from Connecticut. The trip organizer arranged months ago for 3 guides from EMS in No Conway to take our group up. I started looking around for information about where we were going and found this forum, which has been a wealth of information, and was shared in bits with members of the group.
Only 1 or maybe 2 had been to MtW in the past, but many years ago. I was concerned about the lack of experience in strenuous climbing/hiking and being out of shape, as well as the apparent lack of knowledge amongst the group about what conditions are like in the Whites. It seemed that very few others bothered to look up anything. As for myself, I am a runner and have some measure of conditioning, but climbing muscles are different than running muscles. I have done a decent amount of hiking and backpacking, but most of that was when I was in Scouts and as a younger man. Now that my son is in Scouts, I am getting back into it.
Our group made two prep hikes with full packs on local trails in CT - not anywhere near similar conditions in length or altitude.
We had 27 in our party, 10 dads and 17 Scouts, ranging in age from 11 to 17. The group was broken up into 3 crews, each with a guide. Equipment-wise, the group was well-prepared. The prep hikes were successful in eliminating a bunch of dangling equipment hooked on packs.
Leaving the parking lot at 8:30, we went up Ammo - a lot more humid than it appeared, as I found out a half hour in. Our prep was good, everyone had plenty of water and snack food. The scenery going up was beautiful, even though it was overcast and foggy in parts. I enjoyed every minute.
Our group was deemed the faster of the 3, so we were first out. Reached Lake of the Clouds Hut around 11:15, dropped off some gear and had a short breather. Quite a place, I was impressed. I was expecting much less than we found.
On to the summit after some refueling. Along the way, we ran into a group coming down from the summit, led by our guide Dave's fiance. We started getting rain about 15 minutes from the summit, just a sprinkling kind. It picked up shortly after getting inside. Some more refueling/rest, waited for the other 2 groups to summit, then headed back down.
It was dry the rest of the way to the Hut, but intermittently very foggy. My group stayed together and in good spirits reached the Hut just about 4 pm. The other groups were in by 5. The skies opened shortly after that for a couple of hours. We enjoyed a great meal (turkey) and a quiet evening.
On Sunday we left right after breakfast, back down Ammo. I didn't realize how beneficial our trekking poles would prove to be. We had better luck with the weather - the sun burned through the fog, so the views were great. Reached the bottom around 11 and waited for the other groups, then piled into vehicles for the trip back to CT.
A very exciting and rewarding trip. Brad was right - you just have to get above treeline once to get hooked. I have been scrutinizing the AMC map, looking at other trails. We talked about doing some hut-to-hut traversing as part of a multi-day high adventure experience for a smaller group. It would be a shame not to use all this equipment we bought ...
Photos will be forthcoming.