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In the Fellowship of the Ring, the group chooses a path up a mountain through the Caradhras Pass. As they progress, a winter blizzard sets upon them that seems to get worse the further they travel.

When the group decides to turn back, a creature could be almost be seen laughing in the far distance (?) What was this creature that the book hinted at and was it responsible for the snowstorm?

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    There was no creature. The only thing mentioned is that Caradhas itself, the mountain, is hostile. They heard cruel voices in the air from wind, they were targeted by rockfalls and a snowbank was blocking their return path, but it was all indicated as signs of Caradhas hostility. I do not remember something like that in the movie (where Saruman is influencing the weather against the Fellowship), even in the extended edition, if you mean the movie. – Thorsten S. Mar 27 '15 at 0:02
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    @ThorstenS. The power of Sauron is also mentioned. Boromir asked if the storm was caused by Sauron. In response Gimli said that if it were Sauron then his arm had grown long. The last reply was Gandalf who said that Sauron's arm had indeed grown long. So Gimli believes the storm is caused by Caradhas but Gandalf's comment casts doubt on this, leaving us to suspect that Sauron might be at work. – a_a Mar 27 '15 at 1:41
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    I'm not sure about the movie; I had the book in mind when I asked the question. There were rockfalls. My impression was that there was one laughing voice. I don't think the book ever explains who it was. I was hoping someone who had read Unfinished Tales or other history might know. May be it was just orcs? – Parag Mar 27 '15 at 2:42
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    @Sisyphus the characters talk about having the impression of being laughed at, yes; but we're never told whether they're correct in their impression. I think we're more led to believe it was "the spirit of Caradhras". – Matt Gutting Mar 27 '15 at 3:11
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    @MajorStackings: the rock giants were in The Hobbit, while crossing the Misty Mountains further north. – Nathan Tuggy Mar 27 '15 at 6:42
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There doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that any "creature" was involved in the events upon Caradhras. It appears that the culprit was most likely either the mountain itself or the weather.

All quotes below are taken from the chapter The Ring Goes South in the book The Fellowship of the Ring.

Gimli clearly supports the "Caradhras is a jerk" theory:

"’Caradhras was called the Cruel, and had an ill name,’ said Gimli, ’long years ago, when rumour of Sauron had not been heard in these lands.’"

And:

"’Caradhras has not forgiven us,’ he said. ’He has more snow yet to fling on us if we go on. The sooner we go back and down the better.’"

And:

"’It was no ordinary storm. It is the ill will of Caradhras. He does not love Elves and Dwarves, and that drift was laid to cut off our escape.’"

The narrator seems to agree with Gimli at times:

"And indeed 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."

And:

"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."

Gandalf briefly considers the possibility that Sauron is to blame, but quickly changes his tune and says it is just a plain old storm.

"’Winter deepens behind us,’ he said quietly to Aragorn. ’The heights away north are whiter than they were; snow is lying far down their shoulders. 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.’"

Boromir agrees:

"I was born under the shadow of the White Mountains and know something of journeys in the high places. We shall meet bitter cold, if no worse, before we come down on the other side. It will not help us to keep so secret that we are frozen to death."

However, Boromir reconsiders when the Fellowship is nearly smashed to pieces by falling rocks:

"'Let those call it the wind who will; there are fell voices on the air; and these stones are aimed at us.’"

Aragorn isn't so sure, but seems to humor Boromir:

’I do call it the wind,’ said Aragorn. ’But that does not make what you say untrue. There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own.’"

The most likely culprits in the storm atop Caradhras are the mountain itself and the weather (the latter of which is not a very exciting answer).

Passages like the following are probably intended to create uncertainty on the part of the reader, but they don't give us enough information to treat them as anything but dramatic narrative.

"They heard eerie noises in the darkness round them. It may have been only a trick of the wind in the cracks and gullies of the rocky wall, but the sounds were those of shrill cries, and wild howls of laughter. 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."

In any case, whether you choose to believe that the storm was caused by natural forces, a malevolent mountain, or something else entirely, there is absolutely no evidence that any creatures were present during the incident.

  • Indeed, and if you add to that the fact that the Balrog was sleeping underneath Caradhras for who knows how long, there's no telling what the presence of that much evil would have done. Whether it was "waking" the mountain itself, or attracting other evil spirits. – Thorin Schmidt Jul 24 '15 at 17:38
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This, I believe, is the scene you're describing, and I've highlighted what I think you're calling a "creature":

enter image description here

There is no "creature"; it's just a piece of rock.

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    Or Bill the Pony – Oldcat Mar 27 '15 at 0:13
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    Sort of looks like Clover – Jason Baker Mar 27 '15 at 0:14
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    @Oldcat - I always suspected that pony was up to no good. – user8719 Mar 27 '15 at 0:50
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When Bilbo the Hobbit and the company of dwarves passed across the Misty Mountains, there were stone giants playing huge chunks of rocks. It could be the giant, but they were not controlled by anyone except from their own wicked will. In the Fellowship's journey to Caradhras, however, Tolkien implied only Saruman directing the storm, the avalanches and the stones to impair their way.

  • You are confusing Tolkien and Jackson. In the book it is Sauron who is suspected of manipulating the weather. – user46509 Jul 24 '15 at 13:10

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