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Misty Mountains

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Misty Mountains
Mountain range
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate.jpg
"The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate" by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesHithaeglir (S)
The Mountains of Mist
Towers of Mist
LocationBetween Eriador and Wilderland
TypeMountain range
Major townsKhazad-dûm, numerous Orc-holds including Goblin-town
People and History
InhabitantsDwarves, Orcs, Trolls, Giants, Eagles
CreatedYears of the Trees
EventsThe Great Journey of the Elves, awakening of Durin I, awakening of the Balrog, dominion of the Orcs, War of the Dwarves and Orcs
GalleryImages of the Misty Mountains

The Misty Mountains, Mountains of Mist or Towers of Mist[1] (Hithaeglir in Sindarin[note 1] as a plural) was a great mountain range that lay between Eriador in the west and the Great River Anduin in the east.


Geographic Features

In the far north, the Misty Mountains formed a T with the Grey Mountains and the Mountains of Angmar.[2] They ran 795 miles (1,280 kilometres)[source?] to the Gap of Rohan in the south, where they approached vertically the White Mountains. The Gap was a passable valley between the southernmost peak of the Misty Mountains and the northernmost of the White.[note 2]

The lands around the Misty Mountains included several forests, rivers and other populated areas. Such realms under the Mountains had been Angmar, Eregion, Dunland, Lothlórien, Fangorn and others.[2] While Elves guarded both sides of the Misty Mountains, few ever crossed them.

Important Peaks

The northernmost peak of the Misty Mountains can be considered Mount Gundabad,[2] where according to legend, Durin, eldest of the seven Fathers of the Dwarves, awoke. Later it became a haven for Orcs and the capitol of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains after the War of the Dwarves and Orcs.

The greatest Dwarven realm in Middle-Earth, Khazad-dûm, was located at the midpoint of the Misty Mountains. The city was built under three peaks, the Mountains of Moria: Redhorn (Caradhras in Sindarin), Silvertine (Celebdil) and Cloudyhead (Fanuidhol).[3] Inside Silvertine the Dwarves built the Endless Stair, a stairway from the foundations of the mountain to its peak.

The southernmost mountain was Methedras (Sindarin for "Last Peak"), whose knees encompassed the Ring of Isengard.[2]


"The Pass of Caradhras" by Alan Lee

The most important passes were the High Pass and the Redhorn Pass. There was also a pass at the source of the Gladden River.[3]


The Misty Mountains were created by theVala Melkor during the Years of the Trees as ahindrance for the Oromë, who would hunt his fell creatures in the far eastof Middle-Earth. They later became a deterrent for the Elves during theGreat Journey, causing some to turn south. The Elves that would not crossthe Misty Mountains would become the Nandor.<refname=s3>J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"</ref>

It is said that ancient bears livedin the Mountains until Giants arrived and the bears left to the lowlands.<refname=queer>J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"</ref>

The great Dwarven city ofKhazad-dûm (later called the "Black Pit" of Moria) waslocated near the middle of the mountain chain. There Durin's folk lived forthousands of years with a kingdom which spread as far as Gundabad and as fareast as the Iron Hills.

When the Dwarves were strong, themountains were generally free of Orcs, but when the Shadow was strong, Orcsbred in Mount Gundabad, in Goblin-town, later in Moria itself, andeverywhere in between. In T.A. 1300 the Orcs of the Misty Mountainsstarted increasing and harassing the Dwarves.<refname=b2>J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"</ref>

The awakening of Durin's Bane drovethe Dwarves from their city. It also seems that some Dwarves, either before orafter the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, dwelt on the eastern side of themountains near Goblin-town.

Around 1050, the Harfootsmigrated west across the Misty Mountains, fleeing the ever more numerous Menand the Shadow growing in Mirkwood, thus the Hobbits entered history.Later the other two groups of Hobbits, the Stoors and Fallohides, migratedwest as well, until by 2500 no Hobbits could be found east of the mountains.

In T.A. 2480 the Orcs beganestablishing secret strongholds in the Mountains barring all the passes toEriador from Rhovanion, while Sauron populated Moria with hiscreatures.[4]

Near the east exit of Goblin-town theEagles kept an eyrie to keep watch on the Orcs.<refname=council>J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"</ref>[5]

At the southern tip of the MistyMountains, beneath Methedras, was Isengard, which was originally aGondorian fortress but was later given to Saruman.

Gandalf believed that it was theOrcs of the Misty Mountains that had driven the people of Beorn away,and he promised to return there.[6]

Beorn's people returned to theMountains. Once the Orcs were defeated in the Battle of Five Armies, theBeornings kept open the passages of the Ford of Carrock and the HighPass in return for tolls.[7]

Thorin and Company used the HighPass to cross the Misty Mountains, and witnessed the mysterious Giants.Later they were captured by the Orcs ofGoblin-town.[8]

The Fellowship of the Ring faced thechallenge to pass the Mountains. They decided to avoid the High Pass or the Gapof Rohan because of the threat of Orc patrols and Saruman's forces. They attemptedto cross Redhorn Pass, but a powerful blizzard blocked it, forcing them tojourney through Moria. There Gandalf was lost trying to stop Durin's Bane,and after falling into the abyss, he chased him up to the Dwarven EndlessStair and fought on the peak ofSilvertine.[9]

It is said that in the Fourth AgeDurin VII led the Dwarves back toMoria.[10]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Misty Mountain range as the Fellowship tries to cross the pass of Caradhras.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Misty Mountains appear as both a major game region and within other game areas. The region of "Misty Mountains" consists of the part of the mountain range adjacent to Rivendell Valley, including both High Pass and Goblin-town. The mountain range in a broader sense can also be accessed from other in-game regions, including the pass Caradhras in Eregion, former settlement of Dwarves under Thrór in eastern Enedwaith, a village on the slopes of mount Methedras in Dunland, the cliffs of Zirakzigil in Moria and the eastern slopes of the Mountains in Lothlórien.


  1. The Hithaeglir were misspelled as "Hithaiglin" on the original Lord of the Rings map.
  2. Karen Wynn Fonstad estimates in the The Atlas of Middle-earth that some of the peaks may have been as high as 12,000 feet (3,660 meters), comparable to the Alps in Europe. Tolkien had visited the Alps in his youth and was greatly impressed by them.


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named s3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named b2
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Ring Goes South"
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named queer
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named council
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The White Rider"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"