– by Renmir, geographer and scout to the Senate, 161
To re-evaluate possible passages into the lost land by way of the western Ephel Duath. A repeat of my survey conducted in 152, and the initial cartographic surveys of Orthost and Parannor, Autumn 137.
The Ithil Vale
The former vale of Minas Ithil is much as was described in my report of 152, and thus little changed from the original mission. Only minor weathering is present. The valley is impassable to all but the most foolhardy mountaineer, and no trace of passage up to the former Cirith Ungol is to be found. Access to Wanwardor is as impossible as it was when Orthost and Parannor viewed it in 137.
If I may borrow from the brothers’ report at that time: “Where the magnificent and feared citadel of Minas Ithil once stood, lies a fresh mountain and depth; as though the gambling lord of the deep had flipped it like a coin. To the east lies a wall insurmountable, a thousand men high; before which the very earth breaks away, it must have cast the homes and lives of all Ithilrim before it like a demonic offering to the forgotten, vanquished lord of [the black land]”
It is beyond my ability to be as morbidly poetic.
The Morannon Chasm
As noted in 152, it is just possible (with extreme care and fine, trustworthy equipment) to attempt the scaling of the north-eastern crags of the Morannon. The south-western wall is almost sheer, vertical rock for nearly a mile distance. It will not be possible to gain passage through the morannon for any organised force. The chasm base, and several fissures along the lower sides vent noxious steam which dissipates slowly. As before, no
Unnoticed on our previous visit was the presence of an active geyser spotted about a fifth of the way from the chasm base opposite the battle hill, approximately four fingers at armstretch to the left (thus, at the base of the north-easterly chasm wall) At the observed distance, it was thought the exhalations were of water only.
It should be noted that I have a second-hand report of conditions on the Udun-side of the chasm – that I have on authority of an associate who requested anonymity of name and of purpose. There were signs of orcish cuts to the south-western crags for several hundred yards along the south-western cliffs. Estimated between three and nine years ago. Passage was tricky and narrow – and was assessed as investigative carvings by engineers. Passage of armed personnel is considered unlikely.
I have taken the liberty of including an unrequested section “On Orcish activity in Wanwardor, and possible passage into Ithilien” below.
North Ithilen gorges
Minor activity was detected in fourteen gorges/valleys north of Ithilduin and before the Morannon. In all cases, the tracksigns were stale, and investigation up-valley was thwarted by the lack of trackable terrain further into the mountains. The rock is volcanic and porous; leading to the creation of many shallow caves and spaces. No cave investigated showed any sign beyond animal occupation.
No forces were spotted in person or engaged. A bear was disturbed in one cave.
To our surprise, the other valley was occupied by Easterling migrants, seemingly unaware of the history and danger of the terrain. They were directed toward the Ghant Road towards the Anduin; it is hoped they might attract attention of river barges, and seek passage to the west bank.
South Ithilien gorges (Ithilduin to Amon Erthaun)
There are over a hundred gorges in the Ephel Duath between the Ithilduin and the hill of the lonely pine. Only two showed any sign of disturbance and were investigated with the same results as above in the north. For reference, approximately 5 and a half, and eleven miles from the Ithilduin.
A further two valleys deemed the widest and most likely were selected and investigated at random. Findings match the other Ephel Duath valleys.
Unrequested Addendum: On Orcish activity in Wanwardor, and possible passage into Ithilien
The unasked question remains of exactly the scale of orcish activity in the lost land. In particular, whether the isolated bands encountered in Northern Ithilien over the last thirty years are truly isolated bands, or rather of sign of ingress via the Ephel Duath.
There is no proof of any passage between Wanwardor and Ithilien overland. The more likely passage through fissures and caving presents no definitive proof either, though the scale of the scouting task prevents absolute certainty. Orcish activity detected and documented in Northern Ithilien is judged – at present – isolated remnants from bands migrating westward from the north, or northward from the south and out of the Imrad Poros area.
It is the opinion of this geographer and associates that any “leak” of orkish menace from the lost land will remain only via delvings in the black rock itself. As previously discussed, these are unpredictable by nature, and the same recommendation for comprehensive ranger activity and vigilence in the region remains highest.
It should be noted that the northern mountain range that separates the lost land from the free lands (the Ered Lithui) does have proven passage into the eastern Gorgoroth. It is not doubted that orcish activity is concentrated in that region.