steps vs. halyards:
We have mast
steps and internal halyards. No issues.
We run a fine line along the outer edges of the steps and so halyards do not get hooked on them. After some time I modified the set up to the exact opposite end - so that now I can lock the unused halyards (e.g. the spinnaker's) around them!
(Quality mast steps e.g. Selden's have a nice little grove in them exactly for that use ...)
AND our halyards exit at the base and we have them then led to the cockpit
- again: no issues if we have to go forward for any halyard
action - I just open the clutch
in the cockpit
and go foraward and work with the halyard
as if it were operated from the mast base. No issues.
So I am contradicting someone else but not for contradicting sake, just on our boat we have the steps, the internal halyards and led to the cockpit and none of the concerns discussed above.