Misty Mountains

Misty Mountains
Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium
Other names Hithaeglir, Mountains of Mist
Description Mountain range
Location Between Eriador and Wilderland
Founder Morgoth

In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world of Middle-earth, the Misty Mountains (also known by its Sindarin name of Hithaeglir—misspelled as Hithaiglin on the original Lord of the Rings map—and as the Mountains of Mist) is a mountain range, running for 795 miles (1280 kilometres) from north to south, between Eriador and the valley of the Great River, Anduin, and from Mount Gundabad in the far north to Methedras in the south.

Contents

Geography

The northernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Mount Gundabad, where according to legend Durin awoke, though it was later an abode of Orcs. The greatest Dwarven realm in Middle-earth, Khazad-dûm, was located at the midpoint of the Misty Mountains. The three peaks that were part of Khazad-dûm were Caradhras (Redhorn), Celebdil (Silvertine) and Fanuidhol (Cloudyhead). Inside Celebdil, the Dwarves built the Endless Stair, from the foundations of the mountain to the top of it. The southernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Methedras (Last Peak).

The most important passes are the High Pass and the Redhorn Pass. There was also a pass at the source of the Gladden.

The Gap of Rohan was the valley (probably of the River Isen) between the southernmost peaks of the Misty Mountains and the northernmost of the White Mountains. There may have been a gap between Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains and the westernmost extremity of the Grey Mountains, though published maps differ on this point.

Rivers originating in the Misty Mountains:

  • Flowing West: Hoarwell, Bruinen, Glanduin, and Isen.
  • Flowing East: Langwell, Rushdown, Gladden, Silverlode, Nimrodel, Entwash.

History

The Misty Mountains were created by Melkor who wanted to make it difficult for Oromë, who often rode across Middle-earth hunting, to pass. They were far taller in those days and had a more dreaded appearance.

Cirith Forn en Andrath, illustration by Matěj Čadil

The High Pass (also called the Pass of Imladris[1] and Cirith Forn en Andrath (S. 'cirith'=pass, 'forn'=north, 'andrath'=long climb)[2] was first created before the First Age by Oromë in order to allow for a crossing of the mountains by the Eldar. Later in the First Age the High Pass was used by the Dwarves, who connected their roads (the Great East Road and the Men-i-Naugrim through Mirkwood) with it. There are actually two passes at this location. The lower pass[3] is more prone to being blocked by Orcs, hence most travellers using the higher pass outside of those rare occasions when the Orcs were suppressed.

The great Dwarf realm of Khazad-dûm was once established beneath the Misty Mountains, but the unearthing of the Balrog (Durin's Bane) in T.A. 1981 led to the desertion of this realm by Dwarves, though Orcs and other creatures came to dwell under the Misty Mountains.

In the Second Age the High Pass was used by the army of Gil-galad and Elendil when they marched to Mordor in the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. After this war Isildur was slain by Orcs watching the way towards the pass.

During the later Third Age the Pass became dangerous again because of the Orcs. Only with the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which nearly wiped out all Orcs of the mountains, did it become safe again. Nevertheless by the time of the Quest of Erebor the goblins of Goblin Town had burrowed their way back to it, and eventually captured Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield's Dwarf company.

The Fellowship of the Ring tried to cross the Redhorn Pass (after rejecting the High Pass leading to Rhovanion as being watched by the Enemy, and the Gap of Rohan as taking the Fellowship too close to Isengard), but a blizzard forced it to go under the mountain instead of over it. The Nine Walkers faced the Balrog, Durin's Bane, that dwelt in the deserted realm of Khazad-dûm. Gandalf fell with the Balrog into the uttermost depths of Moria and fought the Balrog all the way up the Endless Stair, finally slaying it by throwing it from the peak of Celebdil, but sacrificing his own life in doing so.

Inhabitants

Under the Misty Mountains are the former Dwarf realm of Moria and the Orc mines in which Bilbo Baggins stumbles across the One Ring. Rivendell was hidden in the foothills of the Misty Mountains at the western end of the High Pass. Carn Dûm, where the Witch-king of Angmar resided for several centuries in the Third Age, lay between a western spur of the northern extreme of the mountains, known as the Mountains of Angmar. Isengard lay centred around the tower of Orthanc in Nan Curunír between the arms of Methedras. Eagles had eyries in the Mountains. The Mountains were also home to the only known Balrog in the Second and Third Ages, until it was destroyed by Gandalf the Grey in T.A. 3019. Gollum, a principal character in the legendarium, occupied the Mountains for over five centuries, living on an island in a little underground pool. Stone giants (also called mountain giants) were another race that inhabited the outside of the mountain. Sometimes because of their size, they could be mistaken for the side of the mountain itself. At times these creatures could reach heights of forty feet high, they were only witnessed by Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves who were passing that way, and this information can only be found in the Red Book of Westmarch. Fangorn forest reached right up into the eastern foothills of the southern end of the Misty Mountains, and deep dales there were filled with an ancient darkness.

Works cited

  • Evans, Jonathan (2006). "Misty Mountains". In Drout, Michael D. C.. J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Routledge. pp. 431–432. ISBN 0-415-96942-5. 

References

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 281, ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  2. ^ Unfinished Tales, p. 271
  3. ^ The Annotated Hobbit, p.105, "their main gate used to open on a different pass..."

External links


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