Gracing the front page of Miramontes 2011 Joshua Tree climbing guide book is an incredible image of Firewater Chimney. He and Wolverine Publishing thought the route to be so aesthetic; they included yet another full page photo of Firewater Chimney on page 417. The 417 page photo reveals the true crux of the route, the initial run out.
There was no question I had to get in this chimney when I first laid eyes on the cover of the guide book. What makes a chimney 5.10b? Not to mention at a place like Joshua Tree, begged my curiosity. Firewater Chimney is located in the space vacated by a huge flake of granite, aptly named Arrowhead. Thus you are basically climbing a huge void between a leaning tower and the wall. This feature (the tower) is named Arrowhead because it looks just like a 90’ high arrowhead. The Arrowhead belongs to a collection of features known as the Trad Crags. This entire area is centered around a definitive feature named the Helmet located in a small valley at the edge of North Wonderland known as the Valley of the Kings. Valley of the Kings is best approached by a 1000’ gain up and out of Indian Cove via Rattlesnake Canyon. Rattlesnake Canyon offers one of the most, if not the most, remote and pristine hikes in all of Joshua Tree National Park. Once you turn left (southeast) to scramble up a boulder filled drainage to reach Valley of the Kings, you more than likely will have this section of the park to yourself. There is an alternative, longer, approach through the North Wonderland area.
The Arrowhead has just two established routes as of 2012, Firewater Chimney (5.10b) which is inside the feature and the Last Stand (5.12a) which runs up the outside. Both are bolted routes that rap off of an anchor on top of Arrowhead. Both routes also receive three star accreditation from Miramontes and fully deserve it in my opinion.
Park at the Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead (east of Indian Cove). Hike up canyon on the left side of the waterfall/drainage on the whitewashed granite. Follow the canyon as it bends right (southwest). Before you exit the canyon and scramble up the left side, the total hike from the trailhead might be 30 minutes +/-. There are two (large) boulder filled gullies on the left at yet another sharp bend right just past a feature known as Rattlesnake Buttress up high and left. Take the first such gully which in February had running water. The second one was dry in February. They both work, but the first one will allow faster travel through less technical terrain. As you hit the top of the east canyon wall, an obvious feature known as the Helmet (photo) will come into full view. Take a short slot slightly left which opens up to Valley of the Kings on the other side. Contour around the north side of the Helmet and start up another boulder filled gully heading southeast and aim for a huge detached 90’ high flake that has the appearance of an Arrowhead.