Re: Mast climbing
"it would have dropped the guy aloft towards the deck, right? "
Gravity sucks. But that's why safety lines why invented.
If you attached to a safety line with a prussik, or an ascender, it should allow you to go up without incident, and lock up under tension if you start down rapidly. So cutting a line? Well, from the writeup it sounds like the folks who could have cut it, might not be the right people to give sharp objects either.
Reminds me of the first time I used a can recycling machine. You put the can in a hydraulic press, push a button, the machine crushes the can and gives you credit for a nickel. So this machine decides there's something unacceptable about one can and it tells me "Remove can and try again" and as I lifted my hand, I said to myself, self, are you really going to put your hand into a hydraulic press that's operating all by itself and behaving in a demented manner?
Nope. This chimp was taught to use a stick in places like that. Don't really want to know why that macine is upset, certainly not going to put my fingers in to find out.