‘The Abels’, in simple terms, are a list of Tasmania’s 158 highest and most prominent mountain peaks.
First published in 1994, the books ‘The Abels‘ (vols. 1 and 2) were author Bill Wilkinson’s attempt to recreate the famous ‘Munro’ classification for Scottish peak-bagging in Tasmania, along with the maps and notes to help novice and experienced bushwalkers alike to access and navigate the routes. With no less than 4 copies of each of the books in our household we are never far from this Tasmania mountain climbing bible. Just quietly, Bill Wilkinson is by far Tracey’s biggest celebrity crush and we are both in awe of his achievements but also his gift to Tasmanians with the Abels books.
The Abels Volume 1 goes into considerable mathematical detail on how the eventual 158 peaks were selected for the list, but in a nutshell: any mountain peak with an elevation over 1100 metres (approximately 3,600 feet) with at least 150 metres of prominence (read: vertical elevation change) from the nearest peak over that same 1100 metre elevation, qualifies as an Abel. The second qualification helps identify a true, single peak for the would-be Abelist to summit amongst our state’s numerous multi-peaked mountain ranges.
Though several Peak Bagging lists and points systems for Tasmania’s mountains exist, The Abels are a popular target for many reasons. The 158 peaks are a lofty and most worthwhile goal, yet achievable well within a lifetime. As of 2019 under 20 people are known to have completed all 158. While a few have completed the list in a short number of years of very dedicated peak bagging, most take several decades of walking to conquer all the summits.
Perhaps more crucially, The Abels offer something for bushwalkers of every ability, from newcomers to seasoned hikers. While some peaks can literally be accessed by driving, others require multi-day bushwalks to access. Some are accessed by formal, well maintained tracks, others require careful navigation through untracked bush.