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The Northern Waste was a cold and icy region in the far north end of Middle-earth, located above Mount Gundabad and the Ered Mithrin. It was a vast region of mostly snow and ice. The two main areas of the Northern Waste are the Forodwaith and the Cape of Forochel.
The Cold-drakes of the North, who drove the Dwarves out of the Grey Mountains, came from the Northern Waste. The Drakes killed Dain I and his son Frór outside their Halls in the Grey Mountains. The Dwarves then fled to Erebor and the Iron Hills. It is likely that the "Goblins and Hobgoblins" that later colonized the Ered Mithrin drove most of the Cold-drakes back into the Northern Waste.
According to Frodo's poem "When evening in the Shire was grey", Gandalf had traveled to the Northern Waste. What his business was up there is unknown; it is nowhere else mentioned.
In the icy North too, lived a branch of Men called the Lossoth. They were a hardy folk fit to survive in the cold snowy regions of the north. The people lived mostly in tribes and they likely fought with eachother over land and resources as did all folk in the world. The Lossoth never involved themselves with the world outside their frozen lands and played no known significant role in the wars until King Arvedui, the last king of Arnor, came out of hiding from an abandoned Dwarf-mine in the Northern Ered Luin and asked for aid from the Lossoth of Forochel. He was able to convince them to aid him, and as a reward gave them the Ring of Barahir. Círdan eventually sent ships for him. On his departure day, the Lossoth warned Arvedui that a storm was comming. They and urged him not to go, but he paid little heed to their words. He did indeed perish in the storm, and sank to the bottom of the bay, along with the Palantír of Fornost.