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How Skiing Saved My Son’s Life 

On Sunday, November 5th, father and son duo, Robert C. DeLena and Ryan C. DeLena, will discuss their joint memoir, Without Restraint (Falcon Guides/Rowman & Littlefield, March 2023) on the Main Stage at the Snowbound Expo in Boston, MA.

Rob (54) was raised in Revere, Massachusetts, and is a graduate of The Governor’s Academy, Trinity College, and Northeastern University School of Law. He lives in Sudbury, MA with his wife, Mary Beth, their daughter, Abigail, who currently attends Hamilton College, and their son Ryan.

Ryan (22) is studying Outdoor Education at Vermont State University in Lyndon, Vermont. When he’s not on skis, Ryan is an enthusiastic rock climber, ice climber, and avid hiker, summiting the Grand Teton twice and completing the “Hundred Highest” hiking peaks in New England. He spent the summer interning for Acadia Mountain Guides and has earned advanced certifications from the American Mountain Guides Association and the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

As a child, Ryan had difficulty controlling his emotions and was placed in therapeutic schools that relied on detrimental methods of behavior modification such as physical restraint. He was heavily medicated and voluntarily committed to a mental hospital for further evaluation. Doctors advised Rob and Mary Beth to place him in a group home. They refused.

“He was heavily medicated and voluntarily committed to a mental hospital for further evaluation.”

On January 2, 2009, after an impulsive decision to take Ryan skiing, Rob discovered a different child than the version experts were so sure about. Almost immediately, Ryan executed advanced runs, and with each conquest in the winters that followed, Rob began to question the path laid for his son by the professionals paid to judge him. He later convinced Mary Beth to fight the medical and educational complexes over Ryan’s care and school placement, and together they fostered the freedom Ryan needed to pursue his dream of becoming a professional mountaineer.

Ryan and Rob moved from the magic carpet at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Massachusetts to ski touring in Antarctica in nine years. Today, Ryan is one of the most accomplished and technical skiers in the east. His most recent goal to ski every line in the Presidential Skiing guidebook is nearly complete including some tricky lines like Damnation Gully in Huntington Ravine. He has also embarked on a career as a professional guide, tail guiding for Ice Axe Expeditions in Svalbard and Antarctica.

Ryan recently returned from an expedition to Baffin Island where his New England skillset was put to the test on the some of the planet’s most striking couloirs including the famed Polar Star Couloir.

Rob, through his journey with Ryan, has also advanced as a skier. Since his beginner days when he struggled to keep up with Ryan, he has advanced as a resort skier conquering Big Couloir in Big Sky several times and improving as a backcountry skier on tours in Antarctica, and locally in Tuckerman Ravine.

Written in two voices, Without Restraint is told with both pain and levity, struggle and strength, adventure, and heart. It is the story of a misunderstood boy, a father’s growth, and a shared love of the outdoors that formed their unbreakable bond.

Stop by our booth at Snowbound to chat with Ryan and Rob and to grab some swag!

You can purchase Without Restraint on Amazon, or wherever you buy for your books and audiobooks.

Follow us on Instagram to follow our journey:
@extreme_ryan_delena | @robert.delena| @without_restraint_book