I don’t have a copy of the Alex Palman’s Cookbook so I am not sure exactly which is “the starred route on the west ridge,” a feature with several variant options to start that come together around the cheval. My trips to Malte Brun have also featured more walking, verglas and vomiting than successful climbing, so this should be taken with a grain of salt.
In good weather there are nice spots around the top of the Bonney Glacier, the col separating it from the Malte Brun Glacier and around the old Malte Brun hut site. (Not the Beetham Hut site, which is lovely but is a long way from the climb and has quite unpleasant looking access these days.) If you are coming down from the upper Tasman the Bonney provides straightforward access. If you are walking up the valley it could feel a bit hot and tiresome. The last couple of times I went past there appeared to be quite a good possibility for access directly from the Tasman up to the old MB hut site. It is obviously much steeper and more uncertain as a means of access, but it could be pretty quick, so if you get through let everyone else know and they’ll appreciate your exploration.
The standard access to the West Ridge is a series of gullies and ledges that work up towards the ridge from just below and right of the col at the head of the MB glacier. It is pretty straightforward, especially with a little bit of snow, until the last wall to the crest, which was a bit steeper and is obviously often rappelled, but the rest was pretty comfortably downclimbable. This is a bit before the cheval, which I think starts pretty much where the nice buttress of rock coming straight up from the col meets the ridge. This buttress is the best looking line and so could be what Alex was recommending with his star system.
I have heard reports varying between 200-300m of climbing, which I expect could be partly explained by snow conditions – it looks like you can sometimes sneak up quite high on the left- and grade estimates of 10-13, but not sustained at the higher grade, so route selection would probably let you find harder or easier ground depending on how you feel. Anton showed me a topo he drew after guiding it several years ago, which I think showed about 5 long pitches. He descended roughly the same line with about 2-3 abseils and then a big lower over ground that he downclimbed using some weaknesses around the side. All accounts I have heard have echoed uwhp510's comment on the steep rock being particularly sound with adequate gear to move together most of the way.
From the cheval onwards it looks like classic alpine ridge travel with lots of spikes and other terrain to make for fast simul-climbing. Above the point where Fyffe’s couloir cuts the ridge there is often snow about. From here to the summit is about 200m of climbing, so if you place any gear to supplement terrain features it is probably worth leaving it in to clip on the way back. Fyffe’s couloir, which I believe is not the scene of his famous headfirst dive on the first ascent (it was in the smaller couloir further to the left, low on the north-west face), is a very fast and straightforward route in the right conditions and a fast, extremely dangerous route in the wrong conditions.
I understand that the great Harry Ayres guided the West Ridge of Malte Brun 40 times using nothing but the rope and his ice-axe.