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A One-Day Ascent of Block Mountain
Timestamp Free: 2020.09.25 - 03:52:55
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Front Ranges / Sawback Range
  (1 days)
Participants: Rick Collier
Difficulty: 2: Long, but easy scramble
From Johnston Canyon, ascent to Ink Pots, then Luellen Lake, Mystic Pass trail, and finally Block mountain.
There are times, especially in the early autumn, when one has had a whole summer to get fit and strong to try an adventure that is somewhat more demanding and thereby exciting than the usual day-trips or backpacks. One of those is the ascent of Block Mountain (9633'), a backcountry marathon of 40 km round-trip and nearly 5500' in elevation gain.

It is a fairly straightforward excursion, with nearly half the distance on well-traveled trails and the rest being either above timberline or in light forest; the only real grunt work is the actual ascent of the final massif of Block Mt., which is 1600' of mostly scree, and the climb back up to the col to the SE (about 450').

Here are the details:

1. Start at Johnston Canyon or Hillsdale Meadows (the latter is a less-traveled approach, but slightly longer than the paved path at the lodge);

2. Ascend the trail for about 1200' and curve around a shoulder to descend to the Johnston Creek meadows and the Ink Pots - 5.8 km.

3. Follow the trail up Johnston Canyon toward Luellen Lake for another 1.9 km (total = 7.7 km) to the Mystic Pass turnoff at GR 819/833 on 82 O/5 (Castle Mountain); take the right-hand trail toward Mystic Pass - about 2 hrs to here.

4. Look for a drainage off to the N (left) only 1 km up the Mystic Pass trail (total = 8.7 km) and head up this lightly forested drainage -- there is a faint trail at first, then meadows and, higher up, a rocky watercourse. Continue NW to a col at GR 811/903 and an elevation of 8300'; by this point you will have gained 2800' from the Mystic Pass junction, and traveled up this unnamed valley for 7.8 km (total = 16.5 km). The ascent up this valley was for me the highlight of the trip.

5. The col overlooks what is called Block Basin, an amphitheatre that contains a...

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