It replaced a Kona hard frame, and yes it wasn't inexpensive.
BTW you're treading in a pretty deep ocean here. What type of Mountain biking are you interested in doing? Are you touring, kamikaze downhill, single track, cyclocross, trials or using it for commuting/city biking? Do you want full suspension, solid frame, index shifting, disc brakes, 29er, or single speed?
The LHT is a tourer, but it's used pretty generally. I avoid using it as a city bike as it does tempt thieves.