The Nords believe that Men were formed here when the goddess Kyne breathed onto the land. Hence, the Song of Return refers not only to Ysgramor's return to Tamriel after the destruction of Saarthal, but to the return of Men to what Nords believe to be the cradle of humanity.
Pilgrims travel from across Tamriel to climb the Seven Thousand Steps to the ancient monastery of High Hrothgar, where the order of the Greybeards dwells in absolute silence in their quest to become attuned to the Voice of the Sky.
Role in history
The peak of the mountain was the site of the battle between Alduin and his army of Dragons against the Ancient Nordic Heroes during the Dragon War in the Merethic Era. A second battle took place in the Fourth Era between the Dragonborn and Paarthurnax against Alduin himself.
Elder Scrolls and the time wound
A Time Wound formed at summit when Felldir the Old used an Elder Scroll to banish Alduin, creating a Dragon Break. When Alduin reappeared at the summit in the Fourth Era, he began to resurrect fallen Dragons and started the Dragon Crisis.
The Last Dragonborn of the Fourth Era traveled to the summit to ask Paarthurnax for a means by which to defeat Alduin. This led the Dragonborn to obtain an Elder Scroll from an ancient Dwemer Ruin in Alftand. Once it was read upon the mountain the Dragonborn saw a glimpse of the battle between Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, Hakon One-Eye, Felldir the Old and Alduin. Listening to the old Nord heroes, the Dragonborn was allowed to learn Dragonrend, a shout that temporarily stuns a dragon and inhibits its ability to fly. Subsequently, Alduin was drawn to the site. Together with Paarthunax, the Dragonborn bested Alduin in battle. The black dragon Alduin fled to Skuldafn and opened a portal to Sovngarde, afterlife of the Nords, where ultimately the battle between Alduin and the Dragonborn takes place.
Climbing the mountain
Most of the enemies who reside on the path to the mountain are wolves. But due to the strength of some frost trolls, bears, sabre cats, and Ice Wraiths, which may dwell on the stairs of the mountain, it is inadvisable to travel there before Level 10. Additionally, riding horses or sprinting up the mountain may seem quicker, but can be dangerous due to the path's proximity to dangerously high cliffs. Horses will also be attacked by the foes found on the mountain.
There are ten Etched Tablets along the trail telling of the founding of High Hrothgar. Reading them all will give you Voice of the Sky effect.
- Emblem I - Before the birth of men, the Dragons ruled all Mundus; Their word was the Voice, and they spoke only for True Needs; For the Voice could blot out the sky and flood the land
- Emblem II - Men were born and spread over the face of Mundus; The Dragons presided over the crawling masses; Men were weak then, and had no Voice
- Emblem III - The fledgling spirits of Men were strong in Old Times; Unafraid to war with Dragons and their Voices; But the Dragons only shouted them down and broke their hearts
- Emblem IV - Kyne called on Paarthurnax, who pitied Man; Together they taught Men to use the Voice; Then Dragon War raged, Dragon against Tongue
- Emblem V - Man prevailed, shouting Alduin out of the world; Proving for all that their Voice too was strong; Although their sacrifices were many-fold
- Emblem VI - With roaring Tongues, the Sky-Children conquer; Founding the First Empire with Sword and Voice; Whilst the Dragons withdrew from this World
- Emblem VII - The Tongues at Red Mountain went away humbled; Jurgen Windcaller began His Seven Year Meditation; To understand how Strong Voices could fail
- Emblem VIII - Jurgen Windcaller chose silence and returned; The 17 disputants could not shout Him down; Jurgen the Calm built His home on the Throat of the World
- Emblem IX - For years all silent, the Greybeards spoke one name; Tiber Septim, stripling then, was summoned to Hrothgar; They blessed and named him Dovahkiin
- Emblem X - The Voice is worship; Follow the Inner path; Speak only in True Need
At the very peak of the mountain there are two ebony ore veins and two malachite ore veins which requires some climbing. Somewhere around the sides of the mountain, just before the peak, there's also one silver ore vein. There is the Notched Pickaxe embedded in the rock close to one of the ebony ore veins.
- The Way of the Voice
- The Throat of the World
- The Horn of Jurgen Windcaller
- Elder Knowledge
- Alduin's Bane
- Repairing the Phial
- Frost Trolls
- Ice Wraiths
- Bears (depending on character's level)
- Sabre Cats (depending on character's level)
- Goat (climbing to Paarthunax)
- This may be inspired by a real life parallel—a Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage undertaken under the mountain of Sri Pada in Sri Lanka, up thousands of steps.
- In an interview, Todd Howard jokingly mentioned that he would count all the steps leading up to High Hrothgar to make sure it's seven thousand, however it appears that there are actually only seven-hundred forty-eight steps.
- A Skeletal Dragon can be found, buried in snow, on the left side of the mountain, off the main path.
- With extreme effort, the summit can be reached without using the Clear Skies shout. Doing so involves avoiding the strong air currents, by running up against the mountain edge and jumping constantly, trying to constantly reach a higher plateau. Paarthurnax, however, will not be present if the quest to meet him has not yet been given. Once the quest is started, Paarthurnax will appear as normal.
- The summit can be reached before The Dragonborn has even discovered High Hrothgar. Begin rock hopping just before the overhang where the last Frost Troll is encountered. This will lead to final wind gate prior to reaching the summit. Continuing to rock hop, this barrier can be bypassed.
- At some point during the main questline, an Ancient Nord Sword will appear on the ground near to the broken Word Wall that Paarthurnax sits upon. This could possibly be the sword of Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, as she used an Ancient Nord Sword in her fight with Alduin in the same location.