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Places in Middle-earth


Type: Other Natural Formations

Region: Beleriand & North

Meaning: Ice Fang

Other Names
the Grinding Ice
the Ice
the Ice of the North
Helkaraksë (HoME only)
Helkaraxë (HoME only)

Location: The narrow strait between Araman, on the northern coast of Aman, and Middle-earth, known for its dangerous ice floes; submerged during the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age.


[Between] the land of Aman that in the north curved eastward, and the east-shores of Endor (which is Middle-earth) that bore westward, there was a narrow strait, through which the chill waters of the Encircling Sea and the waves of Belegaer flowed together, and there were vast fogs and mists of deathly cold, and the sea-streams were filled with clashing hills of ice and the grinding of ice deep-sunken. Such was the Helcaraxë, and there none yet had dared to tread save the Valar only and Ungoliant.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor

In time the hosts of the Vanyar and the Noldor came to the last western shores of the Hither Lands. In the north these shores, in the ancient days after the Battle of the Powers, bent ever westward, until in the northernmost parts of Arda only a narrow sea divided Aman, upon which Valinor was built, from the Hither Lands; but this narrow sea was filled with grinding ice, because of the violence of the frosts of Melkor.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 5, Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië

In those days... a narrow neck, which the Gods after destroyed, ran out from the western land almost to the eastern shores, yet it was of ice and snow [?pillared] and torn into gaps and cliffs and was all but untraversable, and that was the Helkarakse 1 or Icefang, and it was a remnant of the old and terrible ices that crept throughout those regions ere Melko was chained and the North became clement for a while, and it maintained itself there by reason of the narrowness of the seas and the [?jamming] of the ice-isles floating down from the deepest North whither winter had withdrawn.

The Book of Lost Tales 1, HoME Vol 1, Ch 7, The Flight of the Noldoli

Meanwhile Morgoth escaping from the pursuit of the Valar came to the wastes of Araman. This land lay northward between the Mountains of the Pelóri and the Great Sea, as Avathar lay to the south; but Araman was a wider land, and between the shores and the mountains were barren plains, ever colder as the Ice drew nearer. Through this region Morgoth and Ungoliant passed in haste, and so came through the great mists of Oiomúrë to the Helcaraxë, where the strait between Araman and Middle-earth was filled with grinding ice....

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 9, Of the Flight of the Noldor

kheliek- 'ice' in Helcar, Helcaraxë (Quenya helka 'icy, ice-cold').

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

carak- This root is seen in Quenya carca 'fang', of which the Sindarin form carch occurs in Carcharoth, and also in Carchost ('Fang Fort', one of the Towers of the Teeth at the entrance to Mordor). Cf. Caragdûr, Carach Angren ('Iron Jaws', the rampart and dike guarding the entrance to Udûn in Mordor), and Helcaraxë.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

1This text is from one of Tolkien's early drafts; the name is an earlier version of the proper name as published in The Silmarillion.

Contributors: Lyllyn 3Jun03
Elena Tiriel 29Nov05, 25Dec11

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