Jon Snow describes the mountains as located west of the kingsroad and south of the Gift. The Lands of Ice and Fire depicts the spine of the mountains as extending north from Winterfell in the south through the Gift as far as the Shadow Tower and the Gorge. Beyond the Wall, the mountains transition into the Frostfangs. A large forest separates the northernmost mountains from Castle Black to the east along the Wall. In the west, the foothills of the mountains reach the Bay of Ice. Farther south, the flint foothills of the eastern mountains roll past the kingsroad to the forest of the Last Hearth. The wolfswood extends west and east of the southern mountains. The sources of the Last River and Long Lake are found in the mountains.
The mountains have deep, blue lakes, and numerous piney woods. The foothills have russet and gold autumn leaves, but the mountains themselves have grey-green sentinels, spruce, fir, and soldier pines. The hills contain fish in streams and small game, but wildlife is scarcer in the mountains. Other animals include owls, eagles, and pale goats, as well as the herds and shaggy garrons of the clans. There are no roads, with the only paths little more than goat tracks.
The Northern mountains are inhabited by clans who have lands and holdfasts and fastnesses throughout the region, in the high valleys and mountain meadows. Some clans have fastnesses big enough to be called castles, though they would be considered small and crudely constructed in comparison to the great castles of the south. There are forty mountain clans, large and small, and they are proud followers of the old gods. During winter, many clansmen leave the mountains for the safety of the winter town or to take up service at larger castles.
The most powerful of the clans are the Wulls, who live to the west along the Bay of Ice. The Harclays reside in the hills near the wolfswood and Winterfell. The First Flints, the Knotts, the Liddles, and the Norreys dwell in the high places, with the Norreys living closest to the Gift. The Burleys are also a prominent clan.
Separate from the clans, the Umbers graze their sheep in the high meadows in summertime. Highpoint, the seat of House Whitehill in Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series, is located in the south of the mountains where they meet the northern wolfswood, north of Winterfell and west of Long Lake.
A Game of Thrones
The party of Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister travels on the kingsroad from Winterfell to Castle Black. West of the road they see grey and rugged flint hills guarded with tall watchtowers. Five days north of Winterfell, they see jagged, snow-covered mountains, blue and grey in color, forming a wall to the west.
A Storm of Swords
Rather than take the kingsroad to the Wall, Bran Stark and his companions travel through the northern mountains, which have no roads among their twisted valleys. They pass a granite upthrust as large as Winterfell. Bran recalls that his great-grandmother was a Flint of the mountains, and that Old Nan used to claim that it was her blood that gave Bran his interest in climbing. Bran explains to his companions that the clansmen know of their presence, but will not bother them unless they try to take their goats or horses. The only person they meet is a Liddle, taking shelter from freezing rain in a shallow cave.
A Dance with Dragons
Following the advice of Jon Snow, who provides sure-footed garrons, Stannis Baratheon travels to the mountains, gains the northern mountain clans for his cause, and frees Deepwood Motte in the wolfswood from the ironborn of Asha Greyjoy.
Meera: Up and down, then down and up. Then up and down again. I hate these stupid mountains of yours, Prince Bran.
Bran: Yesterday you said you loved them.Meera: Oh, I do. My lord father told me about mountains, but I never saw one till now. I love them more than I can say.
The moon was almost full, the night so clear she could see the mountains, their peaks crowned with snow. Cold and bleak and inhospitable, but beautiful in the moonlight. Their summits glimmered pale and jagged as a row of sharpened teeth. The foothills and the smaller peaks were lost in shadow.—thoughts of Asha Greyjoy
It has always been a harsh life up there. When the snows fall and food grows scarce, their young must travel to the winter town or take service at one castle or the other. The old men gather up what strength that remains in them and announce that they are going hunting. Some are found come spring. Most are never seen again.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Mountain Clans.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, Westeros.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Wall.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 55, Jon VII.
- So Spake Martin: Northern Clans, February 12, 2001
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 49, Jon X.
- Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series, "The Sword in the Darkness".
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 53, Jon XI.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Appendix: Stark Lineage.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.