@Nifty - I've messed with the limits a bunch and I've seen no change in the chain riding up the pulley. I won't say that I'm a master tech and I've set it "perfectly" and it's still amiss.. but I'd expect that if it were a symptom of the limit adjustment that running through the range would produce a different reaction - which is not the case.
@tommasini - while I didn't install a 11-27 so I could stay in the big ring, I'd still appreciate my equipment functioning properly. The Ti is just a coating and has more effect on wear than weight.
@Dave67 - I can get the cassette to shift very well through the gears but it won't eliminate the skipping on the pulley.
@timzcat - my first suspicion was the hanger... how can I go about alleviating a misalignment?
Thanks for the feedback, fellas. I'm going to try anything that's mentioned - that's why I ask!
Edit: Tomorrow I'll try to eliminate some variables by changing out the cassette and chain one and at time to see what works with old components. If any piece just won't play well - I hope it's the chain... I need more gearing!