High Pass

From Tolkien Gateway
High Pass
Mountain pass
"The Mountain-path" (coloured) by J.R.R. Tolkien
General Information
Other namesPass of Imladris, Cirith Forn en Andrath
LocationMisty Mountains above Rivendell
TypeMountain pass

The High Pass was a pass over the Misty Mountains east of the elven refuge of Rivendell.[1] Somewhere close to Rivendell[2] a long, hard and dangerous path climbed into the mountains until it reached the mountain under which laid Goblin-town,[3] and thence descended on eastward into the Vales of Anduin[4].[5]

There were actually two passes at this location: a pass that was easier to travel and the High Pass. The main gate of Goblin-town was located near the easier pass. Because the Orcs of Goblin-town had often caught travellers who spent the night near the main gate at the easier pass, travellers stopped using this pass and used the High Pass instead. However, the Orcs created a new entrance in a cave near the High Pass.[6]


The High Pass was used by the Dwarves, who connected their roads (the East Road and the Men-i-Naugrim through Mirkwood) with it.[4]

In S.A. 3434[7] the army of Gil-galad and Elendil used the High Pass to cross the Misty Mountains on their march to Mordor in the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.[2] After this war Isildur was slain by Orcs watching the way towards the pass.[8]

In the Third Age, the Pass became dangerous again because of the Orcs. Only after the War of the Dwarves and Orcs, which nearly wiped out all of the Orcs of the mountains, did it become safe again. Nevertheless, in T.A. 2940, the goblins of Goblin-town had burrowed their way back to it, and Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves of Thorin were captured there the next year during the Quest of Erebor.[3]

During the War of the Ring, Grimbeorn the Old and the Beornings kept the High Pass open,[9] but the Fellowship of the Ring ignored the High Pass because the eastern side of the Misty Mountains had become too dangerous.

Other names

The High Pass was also known as the Pass of Imladris.[10]

In Sindarin,[11] the pass was called Cirith Forn en Andrath ("The High-climbing Pass of the North")[10]. Paul Strack suggests that the name is a combination of cirith ("pass"), forn ("north"), en ("of the") and andrath ("long climb").[11].

Other versions of the legendarium

The translation of Cirith Forn en Andrath as "the high-climbing pass of the north" seems to be either a loose gloss or even an error, since elsewhere in Unfinished Tales andrath is definitively translated as "long climb",[12] and an(d) is definitively stated to mean "long".[13]

In the draft for the chapter, "The Ring Goes South", Elrond gave a name for both the High Pass and the Goblin Gate, which was Annerchin.[14]

Portrayals in Adaptations

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The High Pass can be found in the region of the Misty Mountains and is divided into two areas: the Northern High Pass and the Southern High Pass. The mountain pass to the Vales of Anduin to the east was reopened by the Beornings following the War of the Ring.

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

The Dwarves take the High Pass, but without Gandalf. They end up in the middle of a fight between Stone-giants.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, entry High Passp. 207
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", second paragraph
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 14
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire", "But their main gate used to come out on a different pass [...]"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", entry for the year 3434, p. 1084
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings", p. 228
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index, entry * Cirith Forn en Andrath
  11. 11.0 11.1 Paul Strack, "S. Cirith Forn en Andrath loc.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 28 June 2023)
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Notes", note 4, p. 278
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry an(d)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Story Continued: XXIV. The Ring Goes South", pp. 416, 432
Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' cave · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin