Finally crashed the OS... Help


I've smugly watched others plead for help after crashing their Mac and thought that I would never be in that spot.

I've been migrating from a traditional hard drive with Snow Leopard to an SSD with Mountain Lion. I'm on a late 2008 MacBook Pro and I have been backing up but haven't in the last two weeks. I don't want to lose the last two weeks if I can help it.

The SSD had been downloading and I dimmed the monitor so I could catch another hour of sleep while it finished. When I woke up I tapped the escape button and then the space bar to wake it up. Nothing. I mistakenly thought it had shut down so I swapped the hard drives and pushed the power button. Nothing. I got concerned and then remembered that I had dimmed the screen. Pressed the F2 a couple of times and the Mountain Lion screen came up (but I have switched to the Snow Leopard drive!) oooops. I have now realized what was going on and I felt stupid. I chose shut down from the menu and the OS got weird ( I would guess this is a kernel panic).

When I tried to restart, I get a pale blue screen with a flashing question mark in a folder. BIGGER OOOOPS.

- Put Install disk in and tried to use the Disk Utility to repair the hard drive... no luck. Invalid sibling link, Error: Filesystem verify or repair failed.

- The Disk Utility can see the drive but the bottom line indicates that the drive is not mounted. From the Install Disk menu, I choose to mount the drive but it fails.

- Tried to reset PRAM... no luck. Reboots into flashing question mark/folder.

- Tried reinstalling Snow Leopard from the Install Disk... no luck. Several screens in it asks what drive I would like to install to and there is nothing in the window. It can't see an unmounted disk.

I guess that I can boot into the SSD (Mountain Lion) drive that works fine and mount the Snow Leopard drive as an external drive and manually copy files but it would be nice if I could find a simpler way. Have I exhausted my options? I understand the foolish actions that led to this (including not backing up in the last two weeks) and I would guess that I will visit the Apple Genius Bar tomorrow if this post doesn't turn up any advice.

Thanks for any help you offer. paarade
SSD is formated as Extended but it's the older hard-drive that is experiencing the boot issues. SSD drive is working fine.