I've wanted to scramble Black Rock Mountain for a long time. It just has a cool sounding history and I was also intrigued by the area because I have never really explored in the Ghost Wilderness Area of the Rockies before.
Let me start out by saying that the ride in along 16.5 km of rough road / trail is not to be underrated! I was driving my 2004 Corolla and trust me, I was very nervous that I would blow a tire or bust a strut or something. If you really value your vehicle, take your friend's instead. ;-) The other comment about the drive is that you will save yourself a long, hot, dusty walk in the 'valley of death' by taking your friends 4x4. That way you can actually drive to the trailhead and save 3.5km walking each way. The drive is kind of like boiling a frog. The road simply gets worse and worse gradually until you realize that you're so far in you don't really have a choice but to continue! I felt very alone on a Friday in April but if you choose to go with a friend or in the summer you'll be fine.
That brings me to my next observation. It's funny to see how I've progressed over the past couple of years. 2 years ago you wouldn't have caught me in a remote area like this for anything. There really was NOBODY around for miles. I only met one dirt-bike on my way out but for the rest of the day it was only me,the wind, some crows and whatever else I didn't see. If you choose to do Black Rock I would highly recommend you do it in the early spring because any snow will melt very quickly off it and there is no one else around. I would recommend you bring someone along if you're not used to being on your own in a very remote setting. It didn't help that there was a bear warning posted... :-|
I really like this mountain. It reminded me of Moose Mountain (but it's more scenic and remote) and the walk in along the endless valley reminded me of Mount Fullerton. The mountain itself is very entertaining once you break tree line. I enjoyed it as much as Gap Peak's cliff bands, very interesting scenery and just enough scramble sections to keep you interested. This is not a tough scramble by any means, but it's an entertaining hike that will get you to a summit with some of the best views I've had in a while. Highly recommended.
[The infamous gate that starts it all! This is where you start driving the Ghost River Road.]
[This is where I stopped driving. If you continue it is at your own risk - I wouldn't do it on my own without a 4x4 as the steep hill ahead is either loose gravel or ice.]
[Immediately you are presented with an amazing view of Phantom Crag or 'Devil's Fang'.]
[Black Rock Mountain is a long ways off when you first come into the Ghost River valley. Devil's Head at far left.]
[Looking back it seems like a long way.]
[Relief in the form of a comfortable outhouse - complete with a roll of TP!! NOTE: The floods of 2013 have demolished this luxury, I'm afraid. :(]
[Coming out of tree line about 35 minutes after the outhouse, at a good pace.]
[The route up through the gap.]
[The fire lookout looks very small from above the gap. It's only about 40 minutes away at this point.]
[The hut looks small on top of the cliffs.]
[Vern surveys an excellent panorama from inside the hut.]
[You can also view this panorama by clicking the above photo! Peaks include (L to R), Association, End, Orient Point, Devil's Fang, Costigan, Aylmer, Devil's Head and Castle Rock. ++]
[Looking out of the hut you can spot the route in to Black Rock.]
[…Or you can look at the impressive panorama west of you instead.]
[Vern hoists the enormous summit register.]
[Devil's Head from the summit of Black Rock Mountain. I would finally climb that impressive peak 7 years later in 2012.]
[The gap through the cliffs on the way back down.]
[Some rock scenery in the gap.]
[Vern taking some last looks before heading down through the gap and back into the trees.]