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Timeline Event

Fellowship attempts to climb Caradhras

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Dates: January 11, 3019 ~ January 12, 3019

Description:

An event in the Quest of the Ring; see that entry for an overview:
Caradhras rose before them, a mighty peak, tipped with snow like silver, but with sheer naked sides, dull red as if stained with blood....

'Winter deepens behind us,' [Gandalf] said quietly to Aragorn....'Tonight we shall be on our way high up towards the Redhorn Gate. We may well be seen by watchers on that narrow path, and waylaid by some evil; but the weather may prove a more deadly enemy than any.'....

'[It] is no good our delaying the passage of the mountains. Further south there are no passes, till one comes to the Gap of Rohan. I do not trust that way since your news of Saruman.'....

When they returned to the Company Gandalf spoke.... [It] had been decided to face the weather and the high pass....

'From signs that we have seen lately,' said Gandalf, 'I fear that the Redhorn Gate may be watched; and also I have doubts of the weather that is coming up behind. Snow may come. We must go with all the speed that we can. Even so it will take us more than two marches before we reach the top of the pass.'....

The Company set out again with good speed at first; but soon their way became steep and difficult. The twisting and climbing road had in many places almost disappeared, and was blocked with many fallen stones.... By midnight they had climbed to the knees of the great mountains. The narrow path now wound under a sheer wall of cliffs to the left, above which the grim flanks of Caradhras towered up invisible in the gloom; on the right was a gulf of darkness where the land fell suddenly into a deep ravine.

Laboriously they climbed a sharp slope.... But before long the snow was falling fast....

Gandalf halted. Snow was thick on his hood and shoulders; it was already ankle-deep about his boots.

Aragorn [said], '... I knew the risk of snow, though it seldom falls heavily so far south, save high up in the mountains. But we are not high yet; we are still far down, where the paths are usually open all the winter.'....

While they were halted, the wind died down, and the snow slackened until it almost ceased. They tramped on again. But they had not gone more than a furlong when the storm returned with fresh fury. The wind whistled and the snow became a blinding blizzard....

The Company halted suddenly.... Stones began to fall from the mountain-side, whistling over their heads, or crashing on the path beside them. Every now and again they heard a dull rumble, as a great boulder rolled down from hidden heights above....

[Gandalf:] 'It is no good going on. Only a little higher, if I remember rightly, this path leaves the cliff and runs into a wide shallow trough at the bottom of a long hard slope. We should have no shelter there from snow, or stones — or anything else.'

'And it is no good going back while the storm holds,' said Aragorn. 'We have passed no place on the way up that offered more shelter than this cliff-wall we are under now.'....

The Company now gathered together as close to the cliff as they could. It faced southwards, and near the bottom it leaned out a little, so that they hoped it would give them some protection from the northerly wind and from the falling stones. But eddying blasts swirled round them from every side....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

[Aragorn:] 'The dawn is not far off.'....

Very slowly a dim light began to grow. At last the snow stopped altogether.

As the light grew stronger it showed a silent shrouded world. Below their refuge were white humps and domes and shapeless deeps beneath which the path that they had trodden was altogether lost; but the heights above were hidden in great clouds still heavy with the threat of snow.

Gimli looked up and shook his head. 'Caradhras has not forgiven us.... The sooner we go back and down the better.'

To this all agreed, but their retreat was now difficult.... Only a few paces from the ashes of their fire the snow lay many feet deep.... [In] places it had been scooped and piled by the wind into great drifts against the cliff....

[Boromir:] 'See! Though all is now snow-clad, our path, as we came up, turned about that shoulder of rock down yonder. It was there that the snow first began to burden us. If we could reach that point, maybe it would prove easier beyond. It is no more than a furlong off, I guess.'....

Then swift as a runner over firm sand [Legolas] shot away... and vanished round the rocky turn....

An hour, maybe, went by, though it seemed far longer, and then at last they saw Legolas coming back. At the same time Boromir and Aragorn reappeared round the bend far behind him and came labouring up the slope.

'Well,' cried Legolas as he ran up, '... I have brought back a gleam of good hope for those who are doomed to go on feet. There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn... little wider than a wall. And on the other side the snow suddenly grows less'....

They came at length to the great drift. It was flung across the mountain-path like a sheer and sudden wall, and its crest, sharp as if shaped with knives, reared up more than twice the height of Boromir; but through the middle a passage had been beaten, rising and falling like a bridge....

They passed through the lane; but hardly had Frodo touched the ground when with a deep rumble there rolled down a fall of stones and slithering snow. The spray of it half blinded the Company as they crouched against the cliff, and when the air cleared again they saw that the path was blocked behind them....

[With] that last stroke the malice of the mountain seemed to be expended, as if Caradhras was satisfied that the invaders had been beaten off and would not dare to return. The threat of snow lifted; the clouds began to break and the light grew broader....

Soon they all stood once more on the flat shelf at the head of the steep slope where they had felt the first flakes of snow the night before....

From the high place they looked back westwards over the lower lands. Far away in the tumble of country that lay at the foot of the mountain was the dell from which they had started to climb the pass....

A cold wind flowed down behind them, as they turned their backs on the Redhorn Gate, and stumbled wearily down the slope. Caradhras had defeated them.

Ibid.

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 11Jan11

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