How I Killed My Ego on Mount Kilimanjaro

by Michael Hughes

Killimanjaro 6The year was 1995 and I was in Tanzania.

I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa. I’d joined a group of about 12 from all over the world and we’d been climbing for 5 days.

We were all sleeping in a hut and although I was wearing 4 layers of clothing plus a sleeping bag, I felt the coldest I’d ever felt in my life.

I’d rented the sleeping bag from a shop at the base of the mountain.

But it was the strangest one I’d ever seen – an old German Army one with arms.

It was midnight and our guides woke us up so that we’d see the sunrise when we reached the summit.

But I was suffering from altitude sickness – caused by lack of oxygen.

We were all in single file, shuffling along at a snail’s pace – it was impossible to walk faster as the air was so thin.

Suddenly, a tall French man in front of me stopped.

Although I didn’t understand what he was saying, I could hear the panic in his voice.

His girlfriend explained that he’d gone blind.

She gave him a glucose tablet and, miraculously, his sight flooded back. (He was one of only 4 in my group to get to the summit)

I thought I could make it to the top but the more I went on the worse I felt.

After walking for hours, I could see Gilman’s Point in the distance.

Gilman’s Point is on the ridge of the crater but to reach the highest point you have to walk along the ridge for about another 2 hours.

At least I’d be able to say I made it the top of the mountain even if I hadn’t gotten to the very highest point.

As I got closer I realised that it wasn’t Gilman’s point at all but Hans Meyer cave – 17,000 feet above sea level but not close to the top.

It would take another few hours to get to Gilman’s and another 2 hours to reach the summit.

Why was I doing this?

I had altitude sickness.

I had a pounding headache.

It wasn’t fun.

It was hard work.

It was painful.

It was all ego.

But when you’re a tourist in east Africa one of the things you do is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

So I climbed it – because it was expected of me.

I’d finally had enough of this punishment.

I said to one of the guides, ”Sorry but I’ve had enough – I want to go back down.”

So he led me down the mountain.

Although going down was much easier than going up, it took 3 days and the soles of my feet were covered in inch-wide blisters.

And walking was difficult for days afterwards.

Someone said I was walking like Jean Claude Van Damme.

Maybe he walks as if he has blisters all the time.

After all that, looking back, I was glad I did it. It was an amazing experience.

But motivation should come from a source other than ego, pride or just because it’s expected.

Although these may be all that you have right now – until you discover a different source.


Did I kill my Ego on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Not quite. But I recognised it and I realised that I needed to find a different motivation.

Are you going in the wrong direction?

Are you being driven by ego?

Leave a comment below.

Kilimanjaro at 17,000 feet


please leave a comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Dr. Simon Atkins

Oh good Lord, Mike — you almost killed yourself! Actually, did ego die and spirit live?! That’s the best out of all of this!


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

Hi Simon. The spirit lived but although the ego didn’t die it was probably slightly smaller.



Mike I’m glad you are sharing your story, it’s a story of courage to follow your real truth.
Not “I overcame suffering and my left leg fell off and I’m permanently half blind BUT .. I made it to the top .. which is the gist of majority of tales told where relentless ego wins out.


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

Yes Jillian, courage comes in many forms.



Congratulations for the beautiful story of courage and determination, thanks for sharing.
For blessings upon you and your family.



hi mike.. this is really a good one. I enjoyed it. Many people in this world do things just for ego. Realizing ego and winning over it is really a good one. i agree that any thing shouldn’t be done for ego or pride.
really a nice story.



Hello Mike, i have been doing meditation (with mantra given by my Guru (the Master)) from past few days…& still not Succeeded, i understand that witout his (the Master) wish , i can not do anything…i have been reading your article from past few days & found them interesting…you know what whenever i sit for meditation & found nothing i feel disappoint…day by day m getting sad as i dont see anything…i also understand that it is not an easy task..& there is no shortcut for this…do u have any useful advise for me…Thanks!!


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

Hi Sanya. First, I don’t like meditation with a mantra.

I explain why in this article:

And you really don’t need a “Master” – you just need a teacher.

Practice the meditation in my ebook. And if you want want a more in depth training get my 5-day course Meditation CD Here:



hmm..i understand its is every individual choise of doing dont like it with mantra ie your choice, I would like to do meditation with mantra this is my choice.. well its a matter of believe ..Teacher=Master just fyi…by the way..what is reason you dont like meditation with mantra..what is wrong with it? just curious! i like it with mantra as i have built belive for my teacher or Master… 🙂


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

Yes, of course it’s your choice.

I know I may be offending the millions who pracice a mantra type meditation. But you asked for my advice and that is my honest answer.
I’m sure there are some benefits to mantra type meditation but they’re similar to listening to soothing music.

Mantra meditation is really a relaxation technique.
I explain in more detail here:



Thanks is useful!


Hi Mike,
O.m.g ! Your experience of climbing that amazing mountain is quite
Happy week



Hello Mike, just a question while doing meditaion without mantra , do you see or find something in your body? did u see any light? did u hear any voice coming from somewhere in your body?


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

You may experience many things whilst meditatiing. And different people experience different things.

For example, you may feel hot, cold, happy, sad, a pressure inside or outside of your head – I go into more detail in the ebook.


Susan K Stacy, PhD

Mike, I enjoyed reading about your experience again. It reminded me of the importance of ego in our behavior. I commend you on your accomplishment.


Profile photo of Michael Hughes Michael Hughes

Thanks for the comment Susan



But i loved your pic. And mainly your journey


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