According to sailors, the White Waste is ravaged by blizzards, and the winds from its ice mountains scream and howl. Its shorelines fluctuate, receding in summer and expanding in winter. Shimmering lights can be seen in the north of the world.
No sailors have found passage through the ice of the White Waste, either perishing in the attempt or returning half-frozen. Maester Heriston of White Harbor speculated that a warm summer sea may be hidden by the White Waste.
It is unknown if there is any connection between the White Waste and the heart of winter.
Behind the scenes
Maester Heriston's theory that a warm sea might lie beyond the White Waste mirrors historical theories about the Arctic ice cap from our own world. The Greeks and Romans believed that the temperate realm of Hyperborea lay in the distant north, and as late as the sixteenth century, the famous cartographer Gerardus Mercator depicted the North Pole as lying in "an open, ice-free sea."