My 2 cents in addition to great input already..
In the absence of truly knowing if a XC or all-mountain/trailbike is actually better suited for your type of riding, without a doubt in my mind, the Hollowpoint Expert is the best deal out there right now. It is only $1450 right now!!!!! Damn I wish I had the extra cash laying around to buy yet another bike I don't need. On top of that, not sure how far you are from the Mountain View store, from August 12-15, Supergo is having a tax-free sale so that would even save you a bit over $100 more!!
Having said that, no bike is a deal unless it is the right type of bike. Good thing about going with the Hollowpoint Expert is that (1) it will not be too heavy for climbing (2) will pedal well....especially since in 2004 the DW-link was entirely influenced by Dave Weagle as opposed to 2003, where it was not "entirely" influenced by him (my understanding but dont quote me) and (3) will descend well. As such, regardless of whether or not a more XC-oriented or true trailbike best fits your needs, the bike should rock.
Some other thoughts based on a very quick review of a couple of websites (for new bike on closeout/sale) might include:
* Giant VT2 ($1299) at Supergo right now. Simply a phenomenal bike. The only theoretical downside is the 2003 Psylo fork but in general, still a fine fork and a great bike at a a great price
* Rocky Mountain Slayer (about $1600 on sale at Supergo) - though not mentioned on their website, I keep seeing this bike marked down at the Ventura store (where I live). This is a great company hand-building bikes (in Canada). This is a great trailbike.
* Rocky Mountain ETSX-50 ($1699 at Supergo) - same great company as above.
* KHS 904r ($1700 at pricepoint) - this is a full on race-bike if needed. This is an incredible price (about half price) for a full suspension bike that weighs about 23 pounds. This bike has high end stuff on it geared for racing. It will climb great. Whereas with a trailbike you can be lazy in picking lines on the downhill (comapred to shorter travel) you will have to pick lines more consciously on the downhill with a bike with XC geometry and shorter travel but the upside of climbing may outweigh this for you.
* Rocky Mountain Instinct ($1679 at supergo) - great company. solid setup. Not as good a deal in my opinion as 904r.
* Specialized Epic disc ($1649 at supergo) - great XC bike. this is a great price if you are into the "brain" thing (ie, rear shock). I personally dont like it but then again, I prefer travel that is more active but many love this bike and this is a good price.
Please note that considering used is not a bad idea at all but just make sure you decide what type of bike (ie, XC oriented, trailbike, etc.) you want before buying a bike just because it is a good deal on paper.
Hope some of this helps.