My favorite touring partner and I were getting cabin fever and had to get out of the house. We set out to stay the night east of Coleman Pinnacle but a late start and challenging snow conditions clipped our tour short. We stopped just west of the pinnacle on a sheltered area behind a stand of trees. The snow was very conducive to leveling a tent pad and constructing a windbreak but made travel challenging.
We left the Heather Meadows trailhead around noon and immediately found hard snow. I typically try to stay off the groomer on the climb to the Austin Pass ski area boundary gate but the conditions caused me to reconsider even with ski crampons on. Likewise, we followed the entire road switch back around Martha's Ladder up to the Artist Point parking lot. The south face of Table between the AP lot and the bench was the only place that we found soft snow when traveling in either direction. We split skied down from the trees to the bench and then continued on the traverse. At the Table-Ptarmigan Saddle we left the last of the soft snow as we got onto the north side of Ptarmigan Ridge. Sometime in the last week there was a very large slide that left a crown from end to end on the ridge. My estimate is R4, D3+.
We did a considerable amount of down stepping and butt clenching to gain the next "bench" even with ski crampons on. It probably would have been worth the time to transition to snowboards and ride further into the drainage and climb out the other side instead of stubbornly holding a high traverse.
We camped at the next saddle, car to camp time was about 3 hours which left us time to excavate a dining bench and tent pad. Exit was the reverse of the entry except we booted up the section that we down stepped on the way in. The butt clench factor was about the same. Exit time was less than 2.5 hours and we were able to ride all the way from the AP parking lot to the car.
Backcountry monoskiing wouldn't be as popular as it is now if splitboarding hadn't been invented...