Most people suspect it was Sauron or Saruman or Caradhras itself, but shortly before the storm Gandalf and Frodo both feel a cold presence which is a feeling the Nazgul causes. Also if I remember rightly, they see something flying against the wind. If it was in fact the Witch King, Gandalf's choice to go through Moria instead would make even more sense.

  • It was Saruman who caused the storm, they saw his ravens flying. Because I don't have the source ATM I'll leave this as a comment.
    – SBoss
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:16
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    @SBoss: That's in the movie, not in the book. In the book, it looks like Caradhras is sentient and Saruman has nothing to do with it whatsoever
    – Joel
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:22
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    lol... yes... in fact, this has been discussed elsewhere at lenght, though not exactly the same question: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/17223/…
    – Joel
    Dec 18, 2014 at 16:26
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    impression i got was just that the mountain was douche
    – IG_42
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:06
  • Bad weather that's somehow connected to magic but we don't know what causes it exactly? Let's tag this [song-of-ice-and-fire]!
    – b_jonas
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:50

1 Answer 1


There appears to be no good evidence supporting this, and indeed no clear-cut evidence about who or what the cause of the storm was.

You're right in saying that Frodo and Gandalf detect "a shadow pass over the high stars, as if for a moment they faded and then flashed out again." But there's no mention anywhere else of what this might be. Gandalf doesn't appear to believe that it could be the Nazgûl; it is only after the (much later) confrontation with Saruman that he states this:

'Nazgul!' he cried. 'The messenger of Mordor. The storm is coming. The Nazgul have crossed the River! Ride, ride!'

This interpretation is verified in History of Middle-earth, The Return of the Shadow. In Chapter 34, "The Ring Goes South", Christopher Tolkien presents nearly the same text, with the note: "This incident was retained in FR, but it is not explained. The Winged Nazgul had not yet crossed the River." Furthermore, after the Council of Elrond, scouts are sent from Rivendell, some over the Mountains:

Others had climbed the pass at the source of the Gladden River, and had come down into Wilderland. ... they had returned over the high pass that was called the Dimrill Stair [the very pass that the Fellowship was trying to climb in the opposite direction].

... Of the Black Riders no other trace was to be seen, and nowhere was their presence to be felt. It seemed that they had vanished from the North.

Thus, there is no reason to believe that any of the Nazgûl were making their presence known near Caradhras.

There is debate among the company about whether Sauron or (an anthropomorphized) Caradhras caused the storm. Gimli appears to be on the "Caradhras" side of the question, with statements like "Caradhras has not forgiven us. ... He has more snow yet to fling at us ..." Boromir seems to be on the "Sauron" side, saying "I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy. ... He has strange powers and many allies." Gandalf seems to come in between the two, allowing for the possibility that Sauron has caused the storm, but not affirming it explicitly:

'His arm has grown long indeed,' said Gimli, 'if he can draw snow down from the North to trouble us here three hundred leagues away.'

'His arm has grown long,' said Gandalf.

But there is no evidence that the Witch-king was anywhere near. He may in fact be in Mordor; in Rivendell, Gandalf says:

I think that we may hope now that the Ringwraiths were scattered, and have been obliged to return as best they could to their Master in Mordor, empty and shapeless.

And there is certainly no written evidence that he caused the storm.

  • It's also worth noting that Elrond's scouts (some of whom crossed the mountains) found no trace of the Black Riders: 'It seemed they had vanished from the North'. Dec 18, 2014 at 20:10
  • Excellent stuff, a huge improvement on my effort.
    – user8719
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:48
  • Yes, excellent answer, another thing is I doubt very much the Witch king or any other Nazgul would have the power to cause such a storm.
    – Joel
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:52
  • When the witch king was in and around angmar back in the day its said he could summon such storms
    – user31546
    Dec 18, 2014 at 20:55
  • Still, it's an interesting affirmation in itself, it would make him much more powerful than I ever thought he was, on a par at least with a maïar... If anybody can back this up with a source. Only thing I found in Unfinished tales: "their chief weapon was terror. This was actually greater when they were unclad and invisible; and it was greater also when they were gathered together." That's a bit below the power to raise a storm. Anyway, if it's the case, it would then rise the question of why he didn't use that power in Pelennor fields to create chaos in the ranks of his ennemies.
    – Joel
    Dec 18, 2014 at 22:05

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